By Monsur Olowoopejo
A group, Justice and Empowerment Initiative-Nigeria (JEI), has led a protest to the Lagos State House of Assembly over an alleged illegal eviction of residents of former school of Nursing building, Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos.
According to a statement signed by the co-ordinator of the group, Mrs. Megan Chapman, and made available to the press, “We were contacted by our sister organisation, the Centre for Defence of Human Rights and Democracy (CDHRDA) which was on site documenting the ongoing eviction by the Lagos State task force .
She noted that force was used and that there were disregard for the material possession of residents during the eviction, while doors of the houses were broken when the residents were not at home and that their properties were thrown away from the windows of the upper stories into puddles and mud below.
“This is very callous and inhumane and this demolition and eviction were carried out despite heavy downpour. “Our further enquiry into the matter and discussion with the task force revealed that the eviction of residents from the said property was purportedly in execution of a 48hr “abatement of nuisance” notice issued to them,” she said.
She stated that the group had earlier written to the state Ministry of Justice, the office entrusted with upholding and enforcing the law of the state, saying that such eviction is highly illegal and unlawful.
She reiterated that a Lagos State High Court had affirmed that the environmental sanitation law of 2001 did not authorise either demolition of homes or eviction of residents.
“We are saddened that the state has once again taken the law into its own hands and there has been no meaningful response to our urgent correspondents or to the plight of the wrongfully evicted residents who feel they have no option to pursue all available legal options to enforce their fundamental rights.
“We wish to plead with the Lagos State Assembly to intervene in this matter and consider using it as an example to demonstrate that Lagos State is ready to make a firm break from this past unlawfulness and that the “Change” preached and promised throughout the election time was sincere and will be felt positively by residents of the state,” she said.
The displaced residents, who were chanting solidarity songs, urged members of the Lagos State House of Assembly to come to their aid. One of them, Mr. Sunday Okoh, said that it was unfair for the Lagos State task force to displace them from the place after they voted for the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the election.
“We came out enmasse to vote for the APC during the last general elections, so it is unfair for the Lagos State Government to eject us from the premises,” he said.
The Majority Leader of the House, Hon. Sanai Agunbiade, who addressed the protesters promised that the House would look into the matter when it resumes sitting in few days time.