One shot dead as Lagos officials continue slum demolition despite court order

Residents of Otodogbame fleeing after the demolition

The armed officials of the Lagos State Task Force who returned to Otodo gbame, a waterfront community in the Lekki area, on Sunday to begin fresh demolition of structures and shanties shot and killed one resident, PREMIUM TIMES can report.

The resident, whose identity is yet to be ascertained, was shot in the neck and died before medical help could reach him.

Two others – one of them shot in the chest – are in critical conditions at the Lagos Island General Hospital, witnesses said.

The latest demolition came just three weeks after a wave of demolition, despite a subsisting court order, rendered an estimated 5,000 people homeless.

The demolition drew a lot criticisms from human rights groups, including Amnesty International, who condemned the action.

But the Lagos State government had defended its actions, five days later, saying the demolition was done to keep the waterfront “free from environmentally injurious and unsanitary habitation few months after it was consumed by fire and rendered uninhabitable.”

Sunday’s demolition began at about 5.30 a.m. and, like the previous actions, was without a prior notice to the inhabitants of the community, said Megan Chapman, co-founder of Justice Empowerment Initiatives, an organisation that has worked extensively in Otodogbame community.

“Despite the fact that we have a court order and have also commenced contempt of court proceedings against the state government at the Lagos State High Court, they are still in Otodogbame now, what they have done is they have started shooting guns, chasing people onto the water, and one by one setting each house on fire using kerosene,” Ms. Chapman told PREMIUM TIMES.

“They said they were on order from Ambode and the Commissioner for Environment. One of our people heard the OC shout that the whole place has to burn down.”

Ms. Chapman said after the March 17 demolition, about 150 houses were left in the community and those who had nowhere to go had to put up make-shift structures

“Now, everyone has been chased onto water, they are in their boats, that’s where everyone is now. Because of the rainfall, the burning is going slowly, it rained last night and again today.

“They are still continuing the demolition and burning, there’s no mercy, and I’m sure by the end of today there’s going to be no more Otodogbame.”

Amnesty International described Sunday’s demolition of Otodogbame community as a “clear violation of rights.”

Lagos State Government officials did not respond to PREMIUM TIMES’ requests for comments about Sunday’s demolition.

Habib Haruna, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s Chief Press Secretary, said enquiries about the incident should be directed to the Commissioner of Environment, Samuel Adejare, and his Ministry of Information counterpart, Steve Ayorinde.

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Messrs. Adejare and Ayorinde did not respond to calls and text messages to their respective phone lines.

The Lagos State Police Command said they heard about the incident, but did not have enough information to issue a statement.

Olarinde Famous-Cole, the police spokesperson, promised to revert with “credible information as soon as possible.”

“We’ve heard that something like that is going on,” Mr. Famous-Cole told PREMIUM TIMES by telephone. “But we can’t release any information for now.”

“We will inform you as soon as we have credible details about the development.”


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