10 November 2016

Just Empower

Nigeria: Violent Evictions by Fire Displace 30 000 in Otodo Gbame

press release

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.

This is an extract - for the full statement, download here.

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