30,000 rendered homeless as Lagos waterfront community is set ablaze

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    A month after the Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, announced government’s intention to demolish “shanties” along waterfronts across the state – and just days after the Lagos State High Court issued an injunction restraining the same – the authorities appear to have moved into action.

    In the early morning hours of Wednesday, 9 November 2016, a gang of boys with reported ties to a powerful royal family, entered Otodo Gbame community – a fishing settlement on the edge of the Lagos Lagoon in Lekki Phase I, made up predominantly of Eguns and other ethnic minorities in Lagos – and began setting fire to houses in the community.

    The police reportedly arrived the scene shortly thereafter but, according to eyewitness reports, instead of addressing the situation, opted to lend assistance to the spreading of the fire.

    Megan Chapman, Co-Director of Justice & Empowerment Initiatives (JEI), said in a statement: “They shot into the community and chased away persons bringing water to quench the fire. They helped to set more structures on fire. Four persons – two women, one man, and one child – reportedly drowned as they rushed into water.

    “It was only when help from other Egun communities around Lagos Lagoon such as Makoko and Oke Ira Nla arrived that residents began succeeding to put out the fire and police turned back.

    “By the time JEI arrived in the Otodo Gbame, about a third of the community – an estimated 800 structures – had been razed to the ground and fires were still smouldering across the community. An estimated 10,000 people rendered homeless in a matter of hours tried to recover what properties they could and dozens of people huddled in boats off the shore of the community.

    To read the full account of the incident, click here

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