The recent onslaught by police personnel on Makoko, a Lagos community, Makoko has attracted the harsh criticism of two non-governmental organizations (ngos).
The Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) and the Centre for Children’s Health Education, Orientation and Protection (CEE-HOPE), described the recent incidences involving the shooting of residents of the impoverished fishing community by the police allegedly on the orders of the Lagos State Government and a powerful police officer in which three people are reported to have been critically injured, as barbaric.
The portion of land in the Ori-Oke area is said to be a bone of contention between a family and a church, the Christ Apostolic Church alongside some residents of the area. A police officer, a certain DCP Tunde Shobulo, backed by the state government allegedly ordered troops of policemen from the Lagos State Command twice in two weeks to forcefully evict the residents despite a subsisting court case. The first attempt was revisited by naked, protesting women while the latest met a strong resistance mounted by youths of the area. The police allegedly shot opened fire and tear gas into the crowds, critically wounding three people. The pandemonium was also said to have been hijacked by some hoodlums who went on rampage in the area.
“It is unacceptable that we are returning to the dark days of the military,” says Nnimmo Bassey, Director of HOMEF and leading environmental activist. “The fact that the State Government cannot respect a ongoing court process shows the gross disregard for our lives by the people in power either at the political or police realms and this should draw the condemnation of everyone. The Makoko community deserves government support and development, not attacks and assaults and dispossession”, he added.
Betty Abah, Executive Director of CEE-HOPE, decried the recent incidence as another show of the insensitive and anti-people stance of the Lagos State government against impoverished and hapless urban dwellers. “The last major attack on unarmed Makoko residents in 2011 at the instance of the Lagos State Government claimed the life of a local chief, witnessed the flinging of children into the lagoon and the rendering homeless of thousands of people, and only stopped as a result of international outcry. The demolition trend was also reenacted in several parts of Lagos. People do not necessarily choose to live in shanties or in degradable conditions. They do because they are neglected by government and the response to such by a humane government world over would be to provide modest housing as constitutionally stipulated and not throw people into the streets. We call on the world to witness another show of shame, another attack on poor, defenceless civilians. We call on history to witness this gross injustice,” said Abah.
The groups further urged the Inspector-General of Police, Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar to probe the recent killings as well as who ordered the police men on rampage against the slum. It also called on the Federal Government, the National Human Rights Commission to compel all the parties to maintain status quo until the final verdict of the court.