Hundreds of residents of Makoko Waterfront marched down to the Lagos State Governor’s office on Monday to protest against the killing of the Otun Baale of Egun Community, Timothy Hunpoyanwa, and the demolition of their shanties by the state government.
While addressing Governor Babatunde Fashola, a community leader, Sodiq Yusuf, expressed sadness over the issue, adding that residents of the community were not reaping the benefits of democracy.
Yusuf said apart from Hunpoyanwa, some children also lost their lives during the demolition exercise.
He said, “When the officials came to demolish, the deceased ran to evacuate his property but when policemen saw him, they shot and killed him. Despite this, the demolition continued."
“Some children, whose parents were not at home also died during the demolition. There are no government schools in our area and you once promised us these things.”
Yusuf added that the allegation by the authorities that the community harboured criminals was false, adding that it wasn’t enough to evict the residents.
In reaction, Fashola condoled with the community over the loss of lives but said the demolition would continue as long as the people continued to expand.
Fashola said he had had meetings with communities having similar problems and they had agreed to relocate. He said Makoko community was expanding to the extent that it had begun to affect the environment.
He said, “I’m sorry about the loss of life from this exercise. Because in the process of doing our work, our primary responsibility is to protect lives and I regret that it happened and we shall investigate the circumstances. I have held meetings with your leaders and even those at Okobaba said they’re ready to move and we’re building houses for them at Agbowa. I understand that the place is an industrial area.
“We recognise the people that have been there for a long time but what we see is continuous expansion everyday and the lagoon is shrinking. That lagoon is the only one where we drain water during the rainy season from Akoka, Bariga, Somolu, Oworonsoki. The lagoon is shrinking and the expansion must stop.
“Those of you from the boundaries that we recognised before, we have no problem with you and we are working to provide, water, school, libraries for you but those who have just come will have to leave that is the reality. It’s a very difficult situation and the choices we have are limited and if this place must be sustainable to accommodate you and other interests, we have to put a stop to building on the lagoon.”
Fashola said many illegal residents from Benin Republic, Togo and Cameroon had relocated to the area, contributing to the population and expansion.
“We have land in various parts of the state and even close to water. So, if communities want they can come and apply for land and we will give it to them but you cannot build on the lagoon,” he said.