Amnesty International’s Claims On Forced Evictions Inaccurate – Lagos Govt
The Lagos State Government has rejected Amnesty International’s report on forced evictions in the state, saying it is biased and contains inaccuracies and exaggerations.
In a report entitled ‘The Human Cost of a Megacity: Forced Evictions of the Urban Poor In Lagos, Nigeria’, Amnesty said over 30,000 people had been forcibly evicted from settlements in the state in defiance of court orders.
But the state government argued that the main area of focus in the report – Ilado, which is widely known as Otodo Gbame, is a private land and subject of a lawsuit that has been decided in favour of the family owners.
The state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Steve Ayorinde, said in a statement that contrary to the report, it was ethnic clashes that led to a fire which consumed the settlement, not a government-sponsored demolition.
Mr Ayorinde also countered the claim that the demolition had rendered many people homeless.
“Lagos State Government insists that Otodo Gbame was used as a temporary fishing outpost. The fishermen had their permanent homes in Badagry, Cotonou (Benin Republic) and Lome (Togo). Indeed, many of such people have returned to their homes since the unfortunate fire incident of November 2016,” he said.
“The rest should be encouraged to do likewise rather than spur them on to play the victim, fight legal owners of the land or to demonise government”.
In defence of the government, Mr Ayorinde made reference to an investigation by the state House of Assembly which exonerated the state government.
“The Lagos State House of Assembly did carry out an independent investigation and published its findings, stating clearly that Otodo Gbame was a temporary fishing outpost on the waterways which wanted to illegally appropriate the land that welcomed them on a temporary basis,” he said.
“It is an illegal settlement that should not be allowed to use emotionalism and sensationalism to forcibly take over a private property.”
According to him, the Lagos State Government has no interest in the land since it is a private property; its interest is to rid the waterways of shanties and illegal structures and hideouts for armed robbers, kidnappers and militants.
“The position of Lagos State Government has been consistent,” Mr Ayorinde said.
“While government is demonstrably compassionate to the plight of the less privileged and the urban poor and has continued to engage them in useful talks in line with international conventions and treaties, we urge Amnesty International UK to appreciate the fact that government was elected to protect the general public and promote livable environment.”