Hundreds of people who reside at Monkey Village, an informal rural settlement in the Opebi area of Lagos, have been rendered homeless following the demolition of the settlement by the Lagos state government.
Operatives of the Lagos State Environmental Sanitation Corps (LAGESC) and its task force carried out the demolition on Thursday.
The residents, aggrieved by the sudden demolition told PREMIUM TIMES they were not given any notice by the state government.
While the demolition of shanties and illegal settlement takes place in Lagos often, it is unusual for the government to demolish a settlement without prior notice.
In most cases, the government allows for days or months before demolishing an informal settlement especially after meeting with residents.
When PREMIUM TIMES’ reporter arrived at the area around 12 noon, four vehicles belonging to LAGESC were spotted exiting the demolition scene.
The vehicles, three vans and a pickup, were loaded with the officials who carried out the demolition.
On getting to Monkey Village, the reporter saw damaged properties and valuables and aggressive residents.
While many residents continued to salvage their valuables from the rubbles, scavengers had also arrived at the scene looking for items to pick.
“They came around past 8 a.m. I was cooking, many people have gone out, they started shouting that we should pack. We were so shocked and within minutes, they brought the caterpillar and started demolishing the place,” a resident, Adesewa Owolabi, said.
Mrs Owolabi said all her properties were destroyed, “as the demolition started from her side”.
“I had a shop at Oshodi, it was because they demolished it like three times that I moved to this place. All my goods (attachments and weave-ons) have been destroyed. I don’t have anyone only God, I don’t know where to sleep.
“I rented house at Mangoro before, I was paying N180, 000 but when my shop was demolished and everything I had gone, I moved to this place,” Mrs Owolabi lamented.
Another resident, Jennifer, said she had gone to work before she was called that the place was being demolished.
“I leave home very early, I work 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. and come here just to sleep. When they called me, I didn’t believe it until another person called. Thankfully, some of my things were packed by my neighbour, that’s why I didn’t lose everything,” she said, pointing to a few sacks of clothes.
Other residents, saddened by the demolition, expressed their grief.
“They didn’t even give us any notice. That is not how things are done, we are also humans,” a resident screamed.
The residents explained that the officials, who were not in uniforms, “came with soldiers and police officers”.
“Those soldiers and police officers behaved like Alausa thugs, they wanted to beat people,” Wura Iyiola said.
Most of the settlers have been at Monkey Village for several years, some, over 20 years, PREMIUM TIMES learnt.
The informal settlement is located behind Agbaku Estate, Opebi, Lagos.
Government agencies react
When PREMIUM TIMES contacted Adebayo Taofeek, the spokesperson of the Lagos State Task Force, he said he was not aware of the demolition “because it was not carried out by the agency”.
“It is not our own task force, I don’t know, it is not our own task force. I have spoken with our operation officer, he said he is not aware of any operation,” he said.
A staff of LAGESC, who preferred not to be named, also said “the operation did not come from LAGESC.
PREMIUM TIMES could not reach the spokesperson for LAGESC for an official response at the time this report was filed.
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