One dead, thousands displaced as Lagos State government forcefully evict Otodo Gbame community

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A view of the houses of the Otodo Gbame residents set ablaze by security agents

At least one person was shot dead on Sunday and scores injured after some men wearing uniforms of the Nigerian Police stormed Otodo-Gbame community in Lekki axis of Lagos State, demolished and set their structures ablaze displacing hundreds of residents left in the riverine community.

The deceased was identified as Daniel Anya while Monday Idowu, who was shot in the chest, is recuperating at the Lagos General hospital.

According to the Justice and Empowerment Initiatives (JEI), a non-governmental organisation, a stray bullet hit Aya, who was rushed out of the scene, but died hours later.

The State Government had on March 17, demolished several structures in the community, an action that prompted the residents to approach the court to seek injunction that will bar further demolition.

The demolition came barely three weeks after the state government tried to justify the demolition of Otodo-Gbame community in Lekki axis, saying the residents were illegal occupants.

About 4,698 residents of the community were displaced.

Hundreds of evicted residents, who were trapped on the lagoon, were sighted helplessly watching their property being destroyed.

Efforts to return to the community proved abortive and men presumed to be from the marine police in the demolition team allegedly prevented them from going back to the land.

The attackers included policemen attached to the Lagos State Taskforce on Environmental and Special Offences Unit, Marine police and others who stormed the community at about 0600hours.

Few minutes after their arrival, the demolition agents allegedly started shooting sporadically in the air to scare residents away.

The plight of the displaced residents was further compounded when the rain started; many were sighted including a-week-old baby, a pregnant woman and several children, under the rain.

According to the Justice and Empowerment Initiatives (JEI), a non-governmental organisation, a stray bullet hit Aya, who was rushed out of the scene, but died hours later.

It was learned that Anya was hit in the neck by a stray bullet allegedly shot by the security personnel deployed to enforce the eviction by the state government.

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A resident, Emmanuel Oluwagbemi, disclosed that the deceased, a father of two, died while struggling to save his property from being destroyed.

He lamented that efforts to rush the deceased to hospital proved abortive, saying: ”We could not rescue him because he was shot in the neck.”

Another resident, Abdulrahman Sehnu, alleged that the policemen never allowed them remove their property before setting their structures ablaze, disclosing that one Monday Idowu was alleged shot in the chest.

The Baale of the community, Chief Hunpe Dansu, lamented that the residents were tear-gassed by the policemen deployed to enforce the state government order.

According to him, “The security men came in speed boat and about two black maria to arrest anyone who kicked against their action. We were forced to escape through the lagoon when we discovered that our plea fell on deaf ears.”

The JEI organisation shared pictures of residents who were fleeing the community as a result of government’s action.

In a series of tweets, hundreds of the evictees were seen leaving the shambles of what used to be a haven of safety through canoes.

The Nigerian Twitter community reacted to the forced eviction incident trending it with the #OtodoGbame hashtag.

Donations are currently being made for relief materials to support the displaced community.

The Police Public Relation Officer (PPRO), Lagos Command, Olarinde Famous-Cole, is yet to comment on the incident.

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