By Olawale Abdul-Fatah
The London-based non-governmental organisation, Amnesty International (AI), has said that the eviction exercise conducted by the Lagos State Government in waterfront communities claimed no fewer than 11 lives and atleast 17 residents still missing in the state
AI added that the eviction exercise conducted by the state government between November 2016 and April 2017, led to over 30,000 residents of Otodo-Gbame in Lekki, displaced.
The non-governmental organization disclosed that about 300,000 residents of waterfront communities are under threat of further forced evictions in the state.
AI claimed that the evictions were carried out in direct violation of court orders issued within the period, stressing that the residents were evicted while they showed police a copy of the court order that was supposed to prevent the government from demolishing their homes.
In the report titled, The Human Cost of a Megacity: Forced Evictions of the Urban Poor in Lagos, released by the organization, on Tuesday, it argued that the eviction of the Otodo-Gbame and Ilubirin communities was allegedly done without consultation, adequate notice, compensation or alternative houses offered to displaced residents.
During first eviction exercise, the organisation further alleged that officers of the Nigerian Police and unidentified armed men chased out residents with gunfire and teargas, setting homes on fire as bulldozers demolished them.
It noted that in panic, the residents left their property amid the chaos, adding that, during their interview of 97 evicted residents, they claimed that some residents drowned in the nearby lagoon while scampering for safety.
The organisation disclosed that no fewer than nine persons allegedly drowned during the first eviction and another 15 still remain unaccounted for.
Of the 4,700 residents, who remained in Otodo-Gbame after the eviction, some slept in canoes or out in the open, covering themselves with plastic sheets when it rained.
Meanwhile, 823 residents of the nearby Ilubirin community were forcibly evicted between within the period of waterfront eviction embarked upon by the government.
After being given just 12 days’ notice of eviction, AI claimed that Lagos state government officials and dozens of police officers chased residents out of their homes, and demolished all the structures in the community using fire and wood cutting tools.
The report stated that the evictees subsequently returned to the area and rebuilt their structures, but these were demolished six months later with just two days’ oral notice and no consultation.