Makoko residents reject planned demolition of their community

RESIDENTS of Makoko, Oko-Agbon and Sogunro in the Lagos Mainland Local Government, Lagos State, have resisted the planned demolition of their communities, allegedly by the state government through an estate developer.

The communities, represented by their counsel, Ayo Ademiluyi, rejected alleged plans by FBT Coral Estate Limited to displace its residents.


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A copy of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the developer and the three communities, and detailed plans on how to displace the residents and develop the land were presented.

Our correspondent received a copy of the agreement from one of the community’s representatives, as they agitated against it, saying they never consented to the plans in the first place.

Page one of the MoU between Coral and Makoko. Residents say they reject this agreement. Credit: Joseph Olaoluwa_The ICIR

Ademiluyi, who represented the community and addressed the media, said that what is set to happen to Makoko was similar to what occurred in Otodo Gbame.

In 2017, thousands of people were left homeless after police invaded a riverine community in Lagos, Otodo Gbame, setting fire to their homes.

According to the legal counsel, what remains of that demolition is a fancy estate, known as Periwinkle Estate.

He said, “The purpose of this press briefing is to highlight the state of Makoko community. Sometimes, about four years ago, the Lagos State Government came out with a similar plan like this and acted through private developers. In the real sense, what we discovered is that these private developers don’t want to develop these communities. Their motive is to help drive away the residents of these communities and turn them to an abode for the rich.

“We saw that in Otodo Gbame. Otodo Gbame was a community of the poor. Eventually, the Lagos State Government, aided by the then governor, Mr Akinwumi Ambode, along with the Nigerian Police Force and the Nigerian Army, demolished that community. We are very sure their plan is to repeat what they did there in Makoko.”

The lawyer said the residents would put up the “heaviest resistance” against anyone signing their homes away. He revealed that across the ocean, exactly at a point on the third mainland bridge lies a dredging machine to be used to evict the Makoko people, putting their lives at risk.

Residents of Otodo Gbame protest in front of the court premises

Ademiluyi described the Otodo Gbame forced eviction as a prelude to what he called the Lekki massacre. He stressed that the residents had a right to refuse a developer to build on their land. He argued that despite Lagos’ internally generated revenue (IGR) of N11 trillion yearly, the government had failed in turning the poor community around.

He argued that if government cannot help to reconstruct the facilities in the community, it has no right to sandfill it or evict its residents, adding that its annual IGR was more than the gross domestic product (GDP) of five neighbouring West African countries.

A fisherman and preacher, Avlessi Innocent, told The ICIR in an interview that he had been in the community since the Biafra war.

Makoko residents protest today. Credit: Joseph Olaoluwa_The_ICIR

Innocent said, “When I was growing up, all these places were filled with bush. No one lived therein. Our fathers were the ones who sand-filled here. We are Tofin people. We are not farmers, fishing is our own farming. If they sandfilled this place (Makoko), that means our occupation would be destroyed. If you discover anything you think we can develop, tell us so we can develop it.

“We are fishermen and we can only be close to fishing ports. We, the community, say no to forced eviction. The only help is if the government wants to develop anything, they should tell us. You cannot take our community. Where should we go if you take it from us? If you are to kill us on it, then we would still live here.”






     

     

    The preacher noted that what happened in Otodo Gbame where they were deceived and the island later sand-filled is what is about to happen now and they would not let that happen.

    Similarly, another resident, Akoyon Jackson, alleged the authorities have been wanting to demolish their community for so long.

    “For over 35 years, they have been wanting to demolish our community. We are a peaceful community and not involved in evil. Remove the dredger, we don’t want any authoritarianism in our community. We are not beggars,” Jackson said.

    The residents noted that the threat over their community would spread to other communities like Onike, Sabo and Mushin if not checked. They also charged a presidential aspirant for the 2023 general elections, Bola Tinubu, to wade into the matter if he needed their support ahead of the polls.

    Experienced Business reporter seeking the truth and upholding justice. Covered capital markets, aviation, maritime, road and rail, as well as economy. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow on Twitter @theminentmuyiwa and on Instagram @Hollumuyiwah.

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