Lagos — Residents of Iganmu Alawo community in Apapa Iganmu Local Council Development Area were at weekend evicted by the Lagos State Taskforce on Environmental and Special Offences (Enforcement) Unit.
Chairman of the taskforce, Bayo Sulaimon, who led the demolition exercise, said the state government cannot allow slums in the heart of the state.
He said: "There is no way Lagos can achieve mega city status with this kind slum in this area. You can see it is swampy area. The Nigerian Breweries is very close and there are some other industries around here and to allow a slum to remain here is not acceptable. If they are allowed to stay here, people will still complain. Obviously, there is no resistant from anybody, they have been cooperative because they were rightly informed. There is serious cooperation, some of them are already removing their roofs".
The task force boss added that notice of eviction was served on the residents over six months ago, but the affected people complained that they had nowhere to go.
"We have been on this matter for more than six months now. We notified them to leave the place, but they thought that with time, government will forget about the place. The slum is an eyesore to Lagos and the transformation the government of the day has made so far. Government is not withdrawing the notice. The relevant ministries are on ground to ensure that people vacate the area. The Ministry of Physical of Planning and Urban Development, Lagos State Building Control Agency, Ministry of Agric and other stakeholders are on ground to ensure that they leave this place. Ours is to enforce the government's decision," he said.
Speaking with journalists, the Baale of Iganmu Alawo Community, Chief Lucas Owosheni Medunoye, condemned what he described as the sudden demolition of their structures without proper notice.
"We were formerly living at Ilaje Iganmum, where the National Art Theatre is situated right now. It was the Federal Government that moved us to this place to enable them build the National Theatre in 1973. I cannot say specifically the number of people living here, but I know we are more than 10,000. We were suddenly thrown into the open very early in the new year. Where would we go from here? The notice referred to by the task force was given to us barely 72 hours ago, and now we are refugees in our land", he said.
Another resident, Ganiyu Rufai, who hitherto lived in a church premises located within the community, said his family and church members have been rendered homeless by the eviction.
"We appealed to them to consider us, but they refused. We are very useful to the government, I can say that is why we were spared over the years despite rumours of likely demolition of this place. We are very surprised that government demolished our houses. We have no powers, but we are appealing to them to consider by providing shelter for us," he said.