.Urges IG to bring perpetrators to book
The Amnesty International has condemned the forced eviction of Otobe Gbame community in Lagos State and called on the state government to stop using “security threats” as an excuse to carry out forced evictions, which are prohibited under international human rights law.
The rights group also urged the Inspector General of Police to probe the deaths and destruction of property in Otobe Gbame and hold those responsible to account.
Amnesty International Nigeria’s Researcher, Morayo Adebayo said in a statement on Tuesday that the group was extremely concerned that despite an existing court order prohibiting the demolition of the community, the Lagos state government “continues to forcibly evict, assault, and endanger the lives of its residents”.
“All those that were forcibly evicted from Otodo Gbame and who are now at risk of homelessness must be provided with adequate, alternative housing as a matter of urgency by the Lagos state authorities. That these communities live in such hazardous conditions at all is a failure of the government to meet the demands of rapid urbanization and its human rights obligations to provide adequate housing for everyone,” Adebayo said.
Amnesty recalled that on April 8, armed thugs attacked the residents of Otodo Gbame Community, killing on resident and injuring five others.
According to the group, the attack was one of several attacks suffered by the community, since November 2016, when it was first demolished.
Amnesty also noted that armed police entered Otodo Gbame community on April 8, and fired live bullets and teargas at residents, even while they were trying to flee into the water.
“One person was killed amid the chaos. This attack continued until late evening. Thousands of people were evicted, including babies, people who were already injured or sick, and older persons. Many people were stranded on canoes on the water as the police prevented them from berthing on land. Simultaneously, armed police doused houses, on land and water, with kerosene, setting them ablaze,” Amnesty explained.
The rights group added that the Lagos state Ministry of Justice on April 9, confirmed that they demolished Otodo Gbame because of security concerns after security agents were killed in the Ishawo area of Ikorodu in Lagos State on Saturday night.
Citing the statement from the state government, Amnesty noted that the Ministry tweeted on 9 April: “Lagos State government has received strong security reports revealing that militants are hiding amongst the people in the Otodo Gbame… The state government will stop at nothing to secure the state and is willing to take unpopular decisions that will protect lives & property. The Otodo Gbame situation is one of such. We are sure that posterity will justify this action”
It also recalled that officials of the Lagos Task Force made up of Lagos State agencies, have repeatedly forcibly evicted Otodo Gbame residents, adding that on November 9 and 10, 2016, more than 30,000 residents were forcibly evicted by the task force, using fire and bulldozers to demolish the houses