A pro-democracy and Civil rights body- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has condemned as horrendous and a grave crime against humanity by the Lagos state government, the killings of many residents of the Otodo-Gbame community in Lagos state.
The Rights group said the demolition of the community harbouring mostly the urban poor of Lagos state amounted to a gross abuse of their fundamental human rights enshrined in Chapters two and four of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria of 1999 (as amended) particularly regarding the rights to freedom from abuse of the human dignity of the citizens and their right to life as enshrined in section 33 (1).
In a media statement in reaction to the development in Lagos State the Rights group has asked the Lagos state House of Assembly, the National Human Rights Commission and committed patriots in the human rights organised sector to investigate these unlawful killings and to bring the perpetrators and the Lagos state Environmental department officials responsible for this dastardly crime of vicious attacks of the downtrodden.
HURIWA has asked the Lagos state administration to rebuild the Otodo-Gbame destroyed homes, resettle the displaced persons of Otodo-Gbame community and pay heavy compensations to the victims of these heartless demolition and killings that greeted it.
Besides, HURIWA has also carpeted the Lagos state administration headed by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode over the invasion of Otodo-Gbame fishing community with guns and bulldozers which reportedly left behind a community in ruins and absolute devastation.
“We are concerned that this Lagos state government under Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode- a man who rode on the votes of the poor people of Lagos to win the 2015 election has suddenly become a government of the elite, for the elite and by the elite even against the constitutional provision that makes it obligatory that the security and welfare of the people must be the primary duty of government whose officials obtained their legitimacy and authority from the people.”
“We are disappointed that the Ambode-led Lagos state government for the rich class has unfortunately churned out series of anti-poor and anti-people policies such as the draconian law prohibiting street trading and now this violent demolition of the houses of mostly poor fishing people”.
The Rights group recalled that last Friday, March 17, 2017, residents of Otodo-Gbame community in Lagos State, reportedly woke up to the unfriendly sounds of helicopters, gunboats and police trucks just as the slum of over 5,000 inhabitants had been reduced to rubble with a yet to be independently determined number of human casualties.
HURIWA also condemned the lawless conduct of the Lagos state officials who defied a subsisting court order asking the Lagos State government to stay action and proceeded to illegally invade the poor neighbourhood with bulldozers to unleash violence of unfathomable dimension.
HURIWA has specifically tasked the Nigerian National Human Rights Commission (NHRC); Public Complaints Commission (PCC) together with representatives of credible civil rights groups and the Federal Ministry of Housing to jointly investigate the historical claims that the residents of Otodo-Gbame fishing community are not illegal settlers but that their progenitors have lived there since the 17th century following their successful emigration from Lagos Island.
HURIWA reminded the Lagos state governor that the Constitution in 14, subsection (1) provides that; “The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a State based on the principles of democracy and social justice”; And that (2) “It is hereby, accordingly, declared that: That (a) “Sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this Constitution derives all its powers and authority”.
Besides, the group has accused the Lagos State governor of breaching section 17. (1) of the constitution in carrying out the illegal demolition because; “The State social order is founded on ideals of Freedom, Equality and Justice”, and (2) In furtherance of the social order- (a)” Every citizen shall have equality of rights, obligations and opportunities before the law;” (b) “The sanctity of the human person shall be recognised and human dignity shall be maintained and enhanced”; (c) “Governmental actions shall be humane.
The group said the Lagos state government violated aforementioned section of the constitution which also provides that (e) “The independence, impartiality and integrity of courts of law, and easy accessibility thereto shall be secured and maintained.”
Lagos state government also violated with impunity section 34. (1) which stressed that;”every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person, and accordingly – (a) No person shall be subject to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment”.