LAGOS WATERFRONT DEMOLITION
The Otodo gbame and Itedo water side communities are two of the largest informal fishing settlements with an estimated population of 40,000 people living on the shores of Lagos water front. However residents of the Itedo community had to flee from their homes in the early hours of March 17 as some government officials came into their neighbourhood and started demolition.
Pastor Ashegbon – 48 Years “We woke up and saw about four caterpillars entering the neighborhood, the Baale and I went out to inquire what they wanted inside our neighborhood. They told us that they have come to demolish our homes and we asked why, they said it was an order from the government house. We tried pleading with them and the demolishers told us to wait for their boss; when the man arrived he ordered them to continue with the demolitions as our pleas fell on deaf ears. We lost all our properties and even recorded a loss of two children on that day- the children were still sleeping inside their homes when the demolishers started tearing their house apart that morning. They came here as early as 7am while some people were still asleep inside their homes without any notice before that day. We need help because since that day we have been left stranded with no shelter or food. The government needs to do something about our community. More than 30,000 members of our community were forced to flee from our homes.”
“I am a widow with 8 children, I have just come back from burying my husband and it wasn’t even up to a week before this demolition took place. Before my children were in school, I had a small business through which I sustained my family and I. But now we don’t have any other means of livelihood, we sleep inside this shanty, the 9 of us. When we wake up whatever we see we eat and wait without knowing where the next meal will come.We are human beings with rights and we are also citizens of this country. The government has to do something for us.”
Mr Omotuale Emmanuel. 58 Years"Before now I was a fisherman and I could sustain my family on that but during the demolition they destroyed some of our boats, I have no boat to go fishing with. I have been sustaining my family’s feeding on the little savings I had before this crisis. We are without shelter and no money to go into town to rent houses because the cost of living is very high there."
Igbekele Akali, 53 Security Worker."This demolition has displaced my family and me. Today I had to live in my place of work while my wife and children had to stay in other places since we don’t have the money to pay for rent. We not are going to die. I hope this situation will change and my children one day in the future provide me a house."
Pastor Mallon Agbejoye – 70 year “We have inhabited this land for over 45 years now and they just destroyed our community like that, we were not given any notice, they just arrived with their bulldozers and started tearing down our homes. We don’t even know the people behind this whether it is the state government or the traditional leader (Oba of Elegushi) we have no idea who gave the order for this demolition.We sleep in this midst of these piles of ruins, we stay here and when it gets dark we make tents of mosquito nets and sleep inside them with our children. We are stranded with our family with no money and no shelter, cost of accommodation inside the city is expensive and we cannot afford them.”
Igbekele. "We illajes’ like to settle near the waterfronts because we are mainly fishermen. On this land where these ruins lie were once structures of schools, churches, homes and markets which we built to help sustain our community. We were not given any prior notice before this demolition neither has the government provided any shelter for us since the demolition. They also destroyed our boats and left us with no other means of livelihood. It is true that our community is amongst the poor in the urban city of Lagos but we have been able to sustain ourselves through what we built in this community for ourselves."
Modupe Alade“Before this demolition, I had a store here where I displayed my fish for sale. I will go and collect from the fish sellers on credit and because I had a shop they would give me fresh fish on credit up to 150, 000 naira which I would sell for 200,000 and pay them the 150,000.I was able to feed my children and pay their school fees but now there is nothing. They have destroyed our peaceful community and disrupted our means of livelihood. I and my children, we haven’t had anything to eat since morning nor do we have anywhere to go from here. All I have on me is 700 naira and we cannot rent house with that. We need assistance, this is wrong. I voted for this government during the elections and this is what we get for voting them in.”
Right: Bisola Adewale and her son-Adebayo Oyegbade "They cannot leave us like this with our children the only crime we committed is that we are poor people”- Bisola.