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16 Nov 2017

Lagos Police Disperse Otodo-Gbame Protesters Evicted from their Homes

Protesting Otodo-Gbame Community members have been beaten and assaulted by police officers for daring to hold a a sit-in protest in Lagos early Thursday.
Residents of Otodo-Gbame community on Wednesday besieged the Moshood Abiola Gardens, Ojota, Lagos to protest their forced eviction from the Lagos riverine community.

Police broke up a sit-in protest in Lagos early Thursday, dispersing hundreds of former slum-dwellers demanding compensation after being evicted from their waterfront homes, according to a report by AFP.

It was gathered that the protesters numbering around 600 people from the Otodo-Gbame area of the Nigerian megacity, including women and children, had earlier on Wednesday marched to the office of the state governor to protest the illegal eviction from their homes.

The protesters are among more than 30,000 people made homeless last year, as part of a move by the city authorities to remove shanty towns. At least 11 people are said to have died and 17 others disappeared as the bulldozers moved in and residents were chased into the nearby lagoon.

According to a report published by Amnesty International earlier this week, it called the evictions “unlawful” and demanded an investigation into the violence.

The Justice and Empowerment Initiatives (JEI) lobby group said police moved in when protesters decided to stay the night at the rally with the hope of seeing the governor.

“Just after midnight, the Lagos State Task Force stormed the protest ground and began beating the peaceful demonstrators,” said JEI founder Megan Chapman.

“They brought three ‘Black Maria’ mobile detention vehicles and arrested many of the protesters, especially men.

“We have reports from inside that one vehicle was packed with 46 demonstrators. We believe the others contain similar numbers.”

Amnesty International Nigeria researcher Morayo Adebayo gave a similar number while Raymond Gold, of the Nigerian Slum and Informal Settlement Federation, said “about 100” were held.

“Some of them were wounded,” he told AFP. Lawyers were sent to secure their release, he added.

The JEI said it condemned “in the strongest possible terms the use of force and unlawful arrest of peaceful protesters who have come out to demand justice and an end to forced evictions that plague the urban poor”.

Lagos state police spokesman, Olarinde Famous-Cole, said he had no information about any arrests.

But he added that it would be “a breach of security for anybody to be found within the vicinity of the governor’s office without authorisation after office hours”.

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