Otodo Gbame: Eviction by Fire & Caterpillar, 9-10 November 2016
The forced eviction of Otodo Gbame community commenced on the morning of 9 November 2016 when police began assisting a group of thugs led by a member of the Elegushi Chieftaincy family to set fire to houses, businesses, and community facilities. When residents tried to quench the fires, the police chased them away with teargas and bullets, forcing residents to rush into the Lagos Lagoon. Several persons drowned.

Just after midnight, in the wee hours of 10 November 2016, the police came back with a bulldozer that began to demolish the remainder of the community in the dead of night, when residents and the newly homeless were sleeping. They again set properties ablaze. Despite calls to higher levels of the police, including the Complaints Response Unit in the Inspector General of Police’s office, there was no respite to protect lives and properties.

In a public statement on 9 November 2016, the Lagos State Police Command pointed to the involvement of the Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development in the eviction. An official of the Lagos Building Control Agency also admitted involvement.

In the morning of 11 November 2016, police and a demolition squad on mufti came suddenly to Ebute Ikate, an informal settlement neighboring Otodo Gbame, and told residents to start packing their loads. The demolition began shortly thereafter with a bulldozer destroying homes and shops and police setting properties on fire. Media were denied access to the community, while thousands were evicted in a matter of hours.

Since 11 November 2016, evictees are facing a grave humanitarian disaster without shelter, access to clean water, food, or other basic needs. Each day, police return to Otodo Gbame to harass evictees with arrest and setting more properties ablaze. On the evening of 13 November, for instance, police came to set fire to the approximately 100 traditional bamboo houses that remained above the Lagoon. One of our members was handcuffed and arrested when he tried to present the police with a copy of the court injunction.
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