Scores of residents of Otodo-Gbame Community in Lekki Area of Lagos State on Monday staged a protest to the Lagos State House of Assembly over alleged destruction of their properties by agents of the state government.
Some of their placards read; “Enough of this injustice, save us from Elegushi,” “We want freedom, stop killing our people. The King Elegushi and the Elegushis,” “Otodo-Gbame is being threatened, we have no other land, but Otodo-Gbame,” amongst others.
In the letter submitted to the state assembly dated 14th November and addressed to the Speaker of the House of Assembly, the residents alleged that they were being harassed and intimidated by officers from Jakande Police Station.
According to them, those harassing them included one Mrs. Adebayo, a daughter of one General Adebayo, Anofi Elegushi and Oba Saheed Elegushi via thugs and officers of the Nigerian Police Force and soldiers.
“It might interest you to know that, our fore-fathers, who migrated from Badagry to settle therein, have been on the said land for upward of 100 years, and have lived therein on the said land in peace and tranquility until recently,” the letter, which was signed by the Secretary of the Community, Pastor James Senior, read.
They enjoined the assembly in the letter to come to their aid and save their community before the “powerful influential persons, via the help of the Nigerian police Force, soldiers and thugs render us completely homeless as a result of our weakness and status.”
A spokesman for the protesters, Comrade Bokoh Oluwole, who is a leader in the community, alleged that they were being treated like animals and slaves in Lagos State in Otodo-Gbame Community in Ikate Elegushi Local Council Development Area.
Oluwole stated in an interview with journalists that suspected hoodlums went to the community with the police last week Tuesday and destroyed properties worth millions of naira.
He added that they set properties ablaze, and that many people ran inside the water and that he heard that the state Police Commissioner, Fatai Owoseni was also there that to maintain peace in the area.
“Shortly after the commissioner left, policemen from Jakande Police Station came into the community to protect the hoodlums again.
“Not less than 400 houses were burnt and we were told that policemen are in the community again today destroying properties. We have since recovered about three bodies from the water.
“We are still looking for five more people. They did not give us a single notice, we just saw them claiming ownership of the land and there is no court judgment on the matter. They see us as fishermen, we built our houses on water just like Ilaje people,” he said.
Oluwole revealed that the invaders did not allow them to say anything, and that the police are now arresting the victims of the incident and charging them to court, adding that the Elegushis, who committed the harms are allowed to walk freely on the streets.
He alleged that the state acting Commissioner for Transport, Hon. Anofi Elegushi invaded the community in 2014 to burn houses claiming that he was doing environmental sanitation.
“They burnt houses and killed several people. We are peace loving people in the state. We believe in justice and we don’t want to take justice into our hands. He came again last week to do the same thing and claimed to be serving the interest of the people of Lagos, when he is putting us under distress.
“He is making us uncomfortable and claiming to be a commissioner. 13 of our people are in the prison now, whereas the people that caused the evil are walking freely.
“The House of Assembly enacts law and they should know what is happening in the state. They should set up a committee to look into the matter. Let us explain our grievances, people are drowing, they are homeless, children cannot go to school and we say we are practising democracy.
“Who gave the eviction order, is it the Lagos State Government, won’t they make representation at the court. The Lagos State House of Assembly prohibited land grabbing and what is happening there now is land grabbing. We respect the law so much and we would continue to respect the law. We don’t want them to turn this state to Syria,” he said.
The Majority Leader of the House, who addressed the protesters, Hon. Sanai Agunbiade, said that it was the duty of the assembly attend to them, and listen to their complaint and then process the complaint.
He promised that their leaders would be consulted on the complaint, and that the House would look into the complaint.
“Since the case is like this, it is good that you have consulted the state assembly. I am only one person amongst 40 people, you have written your request. You will submit the paper. When we we sit, we sill show our members the paper and it would be examined.
“The House would look into the matter and we will call your people. The state government does not want anybody to suffer, and the same goes for the state house of assembly. Don’t take laws into your hands, go back to your base since you have consulted us with your request,” he said.