Lagos slum dwellers set for showdown with govt over eviction notice

Governor Ambode [Photo:]

The Nigerian Slum/Informal Settlement Federation, comprising over 70 informal settlements in Lagos, has demanded the retraction of a seven-day eviction notice issued by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.

In a statement Tuesday, the group said it was “shocked and dismayed” over the governor’s pronouncement in the middle of a meeting between slum communities and state government.

“We are deeply concerned that this announcement seems to be a continuation of the anti-poor policies of Lagos State against which we protested last week,” the group said.

“How can we engage in dialogue about partnership toward long-term solutions with an eviction threat hanging over our heads?”

Last week, dozens of slum and informal settlement dwellers protested the state government’s “anti-poor policies”, calling on the governor to include the poor in the Lagos mega city project.

At the end of the peaceful protest at the state secretariat in Alausa, the government invited representatives of the communities to a meeting the next day, October 5.

During the meeting, the communities presented the concerns of three constituencies of the urban poor in Lagos – persons living in informal settlements; persons working in the informal economy; and persons living with disabilities.

The meeting was adjourned till October 11.

But on October 9, Mr. Ambode issued a seven-day notice of demolition to all illegal waterfront communities across the state.

According to the governor, such shanties are often used as hideouts by kidnappers and militants before using the waterways to move their victims to another location.

“You will see that most of the issues that we have with kidnappings are being brought up by those who are illegal settlers by the waterfront,” Mr. Ambode said while inspecting the Ilubirin Housing Scheme on Lagos Island.

“We will commence demolition of all the shanties around the creeks in Lagos State and around our waterways in the next seven days. I have given directives to that effect to the appropriate agencies.”

In their statement, the slum communities said they were suspending dialogue with the government until the eviction notice is retracted.

The statement was signed by community representatives from Ago Egun and Ebute Ilaje in Bariga, Sogunro, Itu Agan, Ofin in Ikorodu, Ajagbe Sari Iganmu, Mosafejo Oworonsoki, Tarkwa Bay, Tomaro, Otodo Gbame, among others.

“Should this notice not be retracted by end of the day on 12 October, 2016, we use this medium to inform Your Excellency that we will be embarking on mass protest across the state,” the statement said.

“Our communities are full of law-abiding, if impoverished, residents of Lagos State. We belong in the city and we have a right to the city as well as right to shelter and to livelihood.

“Forced eviction is not only unlawful; it is also ineffective. It will also not solve whatever problems your administration hopes to solve.”

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Ben Ezeamalu is an Assistant Managing Editor and the Head of Lagos Operations/Metro Editor at PREMIUM TIMES. A graduate of Microbiology from the University of Jos, Ben won the 2015 Africa Fact-Check Awards and was a runner-up in the 2014 CNN/Multichoice African Journalists of the Year.

Twitter: @callmebenfigo.

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