Residents of Otodo-Gbame community are currently facing the same fate that the people of Maroko faced in July 1990. I can't help but wonder why?
Occasionally, the community of over 150 streets and houses owned by 10,000 landlords experienced flooding and sand-filling, but never anything serious.
They lived in peace and attracted a lot of migrants. Things were good until the then military governor of Lagos State, Raji Rasaki, fell in love with the place.
He started to get ideas about the community, which he reportedly told the head of state, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB), who visited the settlement with the then newly created Eti-Osa Local Government boss, Olatunde Beecroft, on November 17th, 1989.
Upon his arrival, he reportedly described the place as ‘a mini Nigeria’ and urged the residents to be open to government programmes.
This began the beginning of the end of this peaceful place. By July 1990, Rasaki had come up with an argument for an urgent infrastructural revamping.
ALSO READ: My Grandfather lived in the old Maroko
According to him, the place was below sea level and needed to be demolished. What followed can only be described as utter chaos and destruction.
Soldiers' attempts to arrest, detain, and even kill anyone who tried to fight against the military invasion led to the loss of many injuries, lives, and properties.
This fateful day was July 14, 1990. 22 years later, it still goes down as one of the worst demolitions/ eviction in Nigeria’s history.
Now, the place formerly known as Maroko are now Oniru Royal Estate, some parts of Victoria Island and Lekki Phase 1.
Otodo-Gbame community, a slum of shanties, peasants, mat-weaving fishermen and divers, is currently being demolished.
According to eyewitness reports, residents are being forcefully evicted as officials of the Lagos state government have set houses on fire.
Policemen in boats are also helping out with the forceful eviction.
Twitter user @Justempower said, “Boat of #OtodoGbame evictees just tried to approach the shore, & immediately Police started firing gunshots to turn them back.”
Pictures and videos of the ejected residents have people crying out for help.
However, the state government has refused to succumb to what has been referred to as 'emotional blackmail.'
In a statement via its Twitter account, @LAGOSGMT1, the governor’s monitoring team basically said that the demolition was in the best interest of the people.
It read, “The demolition of #OtodoGbame was carried out as a security measure in the overall interest of all Lagosians.
“Intelligence report has revealed that militants are using the illegal #OtodoGbame settlement as a base.
“Credible intelligence gathering shows that militants are living amongst the people in #OtodoGbame and are perfecting plans to attack Lekki and VI.
“LASG places a high premium on security and will not abdicate in its duty to protect the lives and property of all residents. #OtodoGbame.
“The killing of security agents in the Ishawo area of Lagos by militants further strengthens the resolve of government to clear the #OtodoGbame.
“The Lagos State government in collaboration with security agencies will stop at nothing to secure the State. #OtodoGbame.
“The government will not succumb to emotional blackmail and will stand by this decision because it is in the best interest of all residents #OtodoGbame.
The settlement in Otodo Gbame is illegal, without any title or appropriate government approval. #OtodoGbame.
“We are willing to take unpopular decisions that will protect lives and property. The #OtodoGbame situation is one of such.”
With this reaction from a government sworn to protect, and serve its people, one can not help but wonder what Governor Akinwunmi Ambode is planning?
Does he have a secret housing plan for this settlement like Rasaki had many years ago and how many people have to suffer for it?
Anyways, let us please help the people of Otodo Gbame.