The Lagos State government said on Sunday that there is no truth in the report that it went to the Otodo Gbame community to demolish structures in the area, causing the death of one person, maintaining that there was no longer any structures on the said private land following the clashes that occurred last November between the Egun and Yoruba, the communities living on the land.
The State’s Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Steve Ayorinde, said this while speaking with the Tribune Online on phone, even as he disclosed that contrary to report, the Lagos State Task Force only went to the community early this morning (Sunday) to clear the waterways, which the state government suspected to be harbouring illegality and had become safe haven and getaways for criminals and kidnappers.
This was just as Ayorinde recalled and lamented the killings on Sunday of four police officers and an Army captain by militants, who had laid an ambush at Ishawo, where the security officers had gone to successfully rescue kidnapped victims.
“There are two or three things: There is no structure on the Otodo Gbame land, which is a private land that is there to be demolished. The structures on Otodo Gbame unfortunately had been destroyed since November last year when they were razed down as a result of the clashes between the two ethnic groups there, Eguns and the Yorubas. The death that reportedly happened yesterday, the police has not been briefed, police cannot confirm it.
“But even if we go by the reported news, what the state gathered, which the police are currently investigating is that it happened as a result of the clashes between those two ethnic groups. Lagos State Task Force only went there this morning and their mission was to clear the waterways which we suspect to be harbouring illegality and has become safe haven and getaways for criminals and kidnappers. There are no structures on Otodo Gbame, which is a private land that anybody has to destroy.
“Please recall that just early this morning in the wee hours of this morning, four gallant police officers in Lagos State and Army captain lost their lives to bullets of militants. They had gone to Ishawo in Ikorodu to rescue kidnapped victims. They succeeded in rescuing those kidnapped victims, but unfortunately, they lost their lives to an ambushed attack, four police officers and an Army captain.
“And so a responsive and a responsible government will not fold its arms and allow the security and the well- being of the general public to be constantly violated by illegal shanties and structures on our waterways. We’ve had enough of that illegal shanties and structures constitutes an eyesore to the type of development Lagos State as a Mega State deserves, but it is even more appalling that such community will constitute continuous danger and threat to lives of the general public.
“So as I said, the Otodo Gbame issue is about the illegality of the shanties. Those shanties are being used as fishing outposts. When fishermen come, there must be somewhere where they have their homes and we know for a fact that those homes are most probably in Badagry and in Cotonou. The outpost for fishing is not their residence; it cannot be turned into a permanent residence especially when it has become evident and very glaring that those outposts constitute danger to the general public.
“And in any case, the Otodo Gbame community was one of the 39 communities that took Lagos State government to court and the court referred that case in January to mediation and asked that both parties to return to status quo.
“The status quo is what happened after the razing of that land, which is a private land. And, therefore, nobody, either the Lagos State government or the Otodo Gbame community as illegal as they are there is allowed to return to erect any structures on the land. There are no structures there to demolish. What the Task Force did was on the waterways when it has become clear that it was proven to be a gateway to kidnappers and criminals, and becoming clear that lives of millions of Lagosians would be in danger. No government would allow that to happen,” Ayorinde said.