Lagos State Government Appeals Against Residents’ High Court Victory
Lagos State Government appeal noted that the judgement was dangerous because it could encourage illegality on the part of the residents. Lagos State Government has rejected a high court ruling and lodged an appeal against negotiating with evicted residents of the Otodo Gbame community.
Last week, Justice Surajudeen Onigbanjo of an Igbosere High Court ruled that the government’s eviction of the residents was unconstitutional and ordered the government to enter into negotiation talks with them to discuss resettlement plans.
The judgement also barred the government from evicting any other residents of other waterfront communities in the state without first providing alternative settlements for them to relocate to.
The government’s appeal noted that the judgement was dangerous because it could encourage illegality on the part of the residents.
The government also argued that the judgement was in conflict with the facts that the government presented in court.
The government said contrary to the misreported chain of events, no unconstitutional demolitions were carried out until a violent clash between two rival groups in the community resulted into a fire that destroyed the community and drew the attention of the the state fire service.
It further said it barred residents from reconstructing the illegal shanties and ordered them out of the community because they were a security threat to the state.
The Otodo Gbame community is a slum of shanties occupied by peasants, mat-weaving fishermen and divers.
Thousands of residents were rendered homeless when the poor fishing community was set on fire then bulldozed on March 17, 2017, with many of them getting chased into the lagoon on boats.
At least three people died during the forceful eviction process enforced by armed police that came in helicopters, gunboats and police trucks.
A day before the March evictions, a High Court had barred the state government from bringing down all illegal waterfront communities like the Governor had threatened to do.
The court case against Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and other Lagos officials was filed in 2016 by Justice and Empowerment Initiatives (JEI), a Lagos-based human rights organization, and dozens of waterfront communities in the state.