Following the recent demolitions in different waterfront communities in Oworoshoki, Lagos, Betty Abah, women and children’s rights activist and founder, CEE-HOPE Nigeria has lamented the nonchalant attitude of the Lagos State Government towards the residents of the community.
Abah, who noted that the informal settlement was as a result of the acute housing deficit problem in the state explained that the government should instead be striving to meet the needs of the poor, and not aggravate it.
Abah who made this known while distributing relief items (food items, cash support, and mosquito nets) to the victims, said “Lagos has an acute housing deficit problem but rather than build low-income houses for the poor to try and meet this needs, Lagos’s response to the problem is sending the poor into the high streets and this time at the height of the rainy season.
“I challenge the Lagos State Government to show the world where they have built any low-income housing, a policy which distinguishes the Jakande era good governance practice and which has never been rivalled forty years on.”
Abah stressed that the demolition exercise was in gross violation of the human and housing rights of the residents, because “not enough notice was given as stipulated by law, besides, after demolishing the area that was given a very short notice, the armed demolition squad went on to demolish more communities that never received any notice and residents allegedly paid money to be able to retrieve their properties.
“Many of the houses were burnt down with household items intact. Some of the residents and sympathizers were also beaten and arrested when they decided to take videos and photos of the exercise for documentation purpose.
“The law provides for compensation if a land is to be used for other purposes by a government (in this case, a jetty and an elite estate) yet nothing of such was given to the people, neither any hint nor provision of relocation.
“The government must be reminded that the urban poor also count as human beings and as Nigerian citizens for whom they have taken an oath to protect and whose welfare is meant to be their priority. Ideally, the Lagos State Government should be ashamed of itself. History is watching with keen lenses.”
Meanwhile, residents of the community had led protests to the Lagos State Government Secretariat, Alausa to demand justice as their houses were demolished without adequate notice and provision for compensation or relocation.
One of the affected residents and pioneers of the protest, Sunday Ibinuolapo, described the incident as unpleasant and optimistic that the government would be held responsible to do the right thing.
Another affected resident, Roseline Aribo who had nowhere to go and has been sleeping in the open, called on Nigerians to their rescue; noting that the ordeal is unpleasant to her and her family, including her children and grandchildren.