One month after the Governor of Lagos State went to the media announcing the Lagos State Government's intention to demolish "shanties" along waterfronts across the state – and just days after the Lagos State High Court issued an injunction restraining the same - the Nigerian Police Force and Lagos State Government have moved into Otodo Gbame community in full force.
In the early morning hours of 9 October 2016, a gang of boys with reported ties to the powerful Elegushi Chieftaincy Family, entered Otodo Gbame community –a peaceful fishing settlement on the edge of the Lagos Lagoon in Lekki Phase I, made up predominantly of Eguns and other ethnic minorities in Lagos –and began setting fire to houses in the community.
When police arrived on the scene shortly thereafter, according to eyewitness reports, they began to lend assistance to the spreading of the fire.
They shot into the community and chased away persons bringing water to quench the fire. They helped to set more structures on fire.
Four persons – two women, one man, and one child – reportedly drowned as they rushed into water.
It was only when help from other Egun communities around Lagos Lagoon such as Makoko and Oke Ira Nla arrived that residents began succeeding to put out the fire and police turned back.
By the time JEI arrived in the Otodo Gbame, about a third of the community – an estimated 800 structures – had been razed to the ground and fires were still smoldering across the community.
An estimated 10,000 people rendered homeless in a matter of hours tried to recover what properties they could and dozens of people huddled in boats off the shore of the community.
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