Lagos Government Rejects Amnesty Report on Otodo Gbame, Blames Demolition on Ethnic Clash
The Lagos state government on Tuesday reacted to a new report by Amnesty International on the forced eviction of residents of the Otodo Gbame community.
The community residents were sacked from a waterfront settlement on the Lekki axis of the state earlier in the year amidst controversy about a court order prohibiting the government from evicting members of the community from the area.
Amnesty International in its report accused the state government of carrying out forced evictions with high-handedness and human right violations.
The state in a series of posts and a statement on its social media pages on Tuesday while acknowledging the international body’s report also rejected it, alleging bias, inaccuracies and exaggerations.
The government gave the appropriate name for the disputed area as Ilado as opposed to Otodo Gbame by which it is popularly known.
According to the state government, “Ilado has always been a private land and subject of a law suit, which has been decided in favour of the family owners.”
It further claimed that the area was used as a temporary fishing outpost by fishermen from Badagry (Lagos, Nigeria), Cotonou (Benin Republic) and Lome (Togo), many of whom the government claimed had returned to their homes and therefore urged those left behind to do same.
Lagos state also denied culpability for the widely reported demolition of the community earlier in the year, attributing it to ethnic clashes among the various groups that settled in the area.
Another portion of the statement read: “Otodo Gbame was one of the 39 waterfront settlements that took Lagos State to court over its plan to rid its prime waterfront areas of illegal shanties that constitute security and environmental threat to the general public. The court judgement in favour of the plaintiff has since been appealed with related applications for stay of action.”
The government cited the findings of its state house of assembly which reportedly concluded that “Otodo Gbame was a temporary fishing outpost on the waterways which wanted to illegally appropriate the land that welcomed them on a temporary basis.”
While asserting that it has no interest in the land being a private property, the state government stressed that it was only concerned about improving the security and environmental conditions of the area.
“Lagos State Government sees a correlation in the reduction of kidnappings through the waterways and creeks of Lagos Island, Ikorodu, Epe, Ojo and the removal of illegal shanties from our prime waterfront areas,” the statement said.