A Non-Governmental Organisation, the Centre for Children’s Health Education, Orientation and Protection (CEE-HOPE) has criticised the Lagos State Government for the demolition of Monkey Village, an informal housing settlement in the Opebi area of the state.
It would be recalled that over 400 persons including children were displaced on December 31, 2020 after their buildings were demolished in Monkey Village. CEE-HOPE confirmed that an “ICT Centre and youth hub built by CEE-HOPE in the community was also pulled down with several computers, library and other gadgets intact in the building. Pleas by community members who had the key of the centre to retrieve the materials were ignored. CEE-HOPE’s water project in the community was also totally destroyed.”
CEE-HOPE Nigeria, in a press Statement signed by the Executive Director, Betty Abah, faulted the action of the Lagos State Government which it described as ‘crude, autocratic and a gross violation of all known laws and guidelines guiding the handling of such matters world over’ which has not only displaced 400 persons (currently homeless) but also endangering the educational dream of more than 200 of the community’s children.
“It is indeed a crying shame that the biggest news out of Lagos every single year would revolve around the savage treatment of the urban poor.
“From Maroko, Makoko, Badia East, Iluibirin to Otodo-Gbame, and now Monkey Village, it is the same pattern of the gross abuse of the human and shelter rights of the urban poor, when Lagos is not the only state in Nigeria and when Nigeria is not the only place where we have slum settlement or indeed where the urban poor exists.
“Yet, the most painful for us was the destruction of educational facilities funded by private individuals and for the most vulnerable of children, and in a country with the highest number of out-of-school children, at a time of a global pandemic and during a national recession,” Abah added.
According to CEE-HOPE, the latest statement from the government was part of the layers of lies bandied by the Lagos State Government in the last few days to cover up the atrocity committed against the poor residents of Monkey Village. From claiming it was a take-over of a land under contest in court, to saying it was a hoodlums’ hide-out, it has now framed a wetland narrative.
“But whatever it is, how come there was no prior notice to the residents to at least take out their few belongings before they were crushed by the graders?”
According to Abah, “Monkey Village sits on about 10 plots of land which belongs to about seven individuals. The individuals then gave out the land to the residents pending when they are fully ready to develop the place and each land is overseen by some members of the community who are well known to the land owners. She stressed that the people are therefore not illegal occupants neither have they ever been served any evacuation notice.”
Following the acceptance of responsibility for the demolition by the Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, CEE-HOPE Nigeria demands “an apology to the community members for the gross violation of their rights, including the failure to follow due process by duly serving them formal notice.”
The group also demanded for “compensation of every one of the community members for lost personal and household belongings and relocation of the victims of this arbitrary forced eviction as guaranteed by the UN provision on Housing Right;
“Compensation of CEE-HOPE for the complete destruction of its multi-million Naira ICT Centre/Youth Hub in the community and water project;
“A promise by the government to end all such arbitrary actions especially with regards to the urban poor in future engagements, commit to meaningful engagement of informal housing residents rather than the usual use of brute force, commit to upgrading of such settlements as is the current practice across the world rather than forced eviction which pushes the poor into worse levels of vulnerability.”
CEE-HOPE also demanded that the “Lagos State House of Assembly institute hearings into the incident, with a view towards addressing the issue and unearthing the personalities and real reasons behind this reckless, inhuman and lawless action which has been ongoing in this state unhindered, and which exacerbates the suffering of the poor and is in violation of the state’s supposed duty as the hope of the poor and vulnerable.”