Spaces for Change (S4C), a non-governmental organisation (NGO), says armed men with “police backing” invaded and torched the Otodo-Gbame community located at Ikate, Eti-osa local government area of Lagos state.
The Otodo-Gbame community was first attacked on November 9, 2016.
In a petition to Akinwunmi Ambode, governor of Lagos state, dated November 15, Victoria Ohaeri, executive director of S4C, alleged that the armed men suspected to be thugs torched homes, business premises, schools and worship centres.
She said days after the incident, the affected residents have been living in unsanitary conditions, without food and clean water.
“Armed men suspected to be thugs, with the full backing of heavily-armed policemen from the Jakande Police Station in Ilasan invaded the community on the 9th of November, 2016 about 11:45 pm, torching homes, business premises, schools, worship centres and everything in sight,” the petition read
“As houses and valuable properties raged under the inferno, the police officers from Jakande/Ilasan Police Station shot sporadically into the thin air, scaring away distraught residents who sought to salvage the remnants of their belongings.
“The attack on the community continued till the 13th of November 2016, and is still continuing. Eye witnesses, victims and the displaced gave uniform accounts of their experiences. They all alleged that thugs and the police officers that accompanied them set their houses and properties on fire. Bulldozers allegedly operated by officials of the Lagos State Government were sighted demolishing some structures and buildings on site.
“The police officers also broke into bars and restaurants, worship centres, private homes and businesses where they looted and carted away valuables like electronics, generators, and drinks belonging to residents. The only health centre that serves the community was levelled, forcefully evicting newborn babies, the aged, pregnant and nursing mothers, and the very sick from their hospital beds.”
Ohaeri said the destruction of lives and property in Otodo-Gbame has led to widespread fear and apprehension.
According to her, weeks before the incident, a Lagos high court had restrained certain named individuals and state authorities from demolishing Otodo-Gbame community pending the hearing of the interlocutory application in Suit No. LD/4232/MFHR/16.
She said that it was troubling that the use of fire to raze dense slum neighbourhoods at night has become a common occurrence in Lagos.
The S4C further went on to demand: “The unconditional release of the Baale of Otodo-Gbame.
“The provision of humanitarian assistance to the victims, especially the pregnant women and children, who have lost their homes and all their belongings.
“A full investigation into the latest fire incident in order to identify the state agencies involved in the recent ruthless invasion of Otodo-Gbame, and ensure the offending officials are brought to justice;
“The Lagos state Government to set up an administrative panel of enquiry or complaint procedure that gives affected persons and opportunities to state their case and seek redress in the short term. An immediate halt to all ongoing and scheduled demolitions across the state.”