By Monsuru Olowoopejo

LAGOS State Govern-ment yesterday demolished several structures in Otodo-Gbame community in Lekki phase 1, Eti-Osa Local Government, rendering about 4,698 residents homeless. It would be recalled that a subsisting court order and positive interim court ruling ordered the State Government to mediate with the residents of waterfront communities four months ago.

While the residents awaited the commencement of the mediation, Saturday Vanguard gathered that the State Government officials stormed the community at about 8am yesterday and demolished hundreds of structures in the community with property worth millions of Naira vandalized by hoodlums.

Over 4, 698 residents have been forcefully displaced by the demolition exercise.

Residents argued that the demolition squad included security personnel attached to the Lagos State Task Force, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC and officials from the state Ministry of Environment.

In a chat with Saturday Vanguard, some of the personnel claimed that they were deployed to work for the Lagos State Ministry of Environment. A Task Force official at the scene disclosed that the demolition order came from the Governor, just as he pointed to a Rapid Response Squad (RRS) helicopter hovering over the community during the demolition exercise.

Speaking to one of the displaced residents, Abdul-rahman Sehnu, lamented that there was no prior notice from the government to the residents to vacate the community, saying, they came this morning and started demolishing our homes.

Also, Co-Executive Director of Justice and Empowerment Initiatives, Nigeria (Jei), Megan Chapman, argued that the demolition violates the order issued by Justice SA Onigbanjo of the Lagos State High Court and will render an estimated 4,698 residents homeless.

While reacting to the development, Amnesty International (AI) has condemned the demolition exercise by Lagos State Government, despite a court order stopping the demolition of the waterfront settlement.

In a statement by Morayo Adebayo, Housing Rights Researcher with AI, said: “This is to draw your attention to the fact that, right now Lagos state government with the cover of military and police have demolished Otodo Gbame, a waterfront community contrary to a court ruling restraining any demolition of the community.

“Amnesty International condemns forced eviction in any form and calls for a halt. The affected community is entitled to Right to Housing. Forced eviction without consultation, relocation or compensation is a violation of Human Rights,” she added.

Efforts to seek reactions from Lagos State Government officials proved abortive.

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