Amnesty International Nigeria has accused the Lagos State Government of illegally and brutally demolishing Otodo-Gbame waterfront community.
According to AI, thousands have been forced to flee their homes after security operatives used tear gas on them and fired live bullets to pave way for bulldozers to demolish the community.
In a statement by its Media Manager, Isa Sanusi, Amnesty International said the eviction was being carried out in violation of a court ruling issued in January specifically prohibiting it.
It also said residents were not served any notice prior to the forced eviction which came as a total shock and called for an immediate end to the demolition and for the authorities to respect the court ruling which prohibits them from carrying out forced evictions in waterfront communities.
Amnesty International’s Nigeria researcher, Morayo Adebayo, was quoted as saying, “The scene at the moment is chaotic and dangerous for the thousands who live in the Otodo-Gbame community. The military and police are out in full force and are using tear gas and live bullets to disperse the residents. There are four bulldozers ripping through the settlement.
“This brutal and illegal act flies in the face of human dignity as well as a High Court Ruling that prohibited the eviction taking place and instructed the authorities to instead seek a settlement with the affected communities.
“The Lagos State Government should ensure that the families who have been rendered homeless this morning are given emergency relief including adequate shelter, water, food and any medical care they may require.”
A resident of the area who witnessed the demolition, Julius Oladele, was quoted as saying that almost all the houses in the community have been demolished.
“They did not allow anyone to take their properties. They are chasing people away. My own house was destroyed this morning before I could rush back from work,” Oladele said.
Amnesty International, which said it had been documenting forced evictions in Lagos State for over ten years, stressed that the evictions “are carried out without adequate prior consultation, adequate notice, and compensation or alternative accommodation”.
It also said that on 9 and 10 November, 2016, over 30,000 residents were forcibly evicted from the Otodo-Gbame community.
“Today’s eviction follows the 26 January, 2017 ruling of the Lagos State High Court in the above case in which the judge held that forced evictions are inhuman cruel and degrading, and a violation of section 34 of the Nigerian Constitution,” it said.