The Lagos State government has rejected the reports of the Amnesty International and the Social and Economic Rights Action Centre on the alleged forceful eviction of residents from their homes in Ijora-Badia East without concern for their welfare.
The Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Ade Ipaye, made the denial on Tuesday at his ministry’s monthly briefing held at the Ministry of Justice conference centre, Secretariat, Alausa
Ipaye described most people in Badia East as illegal occupiers, who agreed that they were forced to move to the area following their eviction from their former area during the construction of the National Arts Theatre complex by the Federal Government.
According to him, “illegal settlements, unapproved buildings and unsanitary conditions cannot be justified as these may end up in painful evictions or demolitions,” adding that the area which is the subject of Amnesty International’s report was a swampy strip of land which had earlier been cleared in 2003 and was turned to a dump site by residents in neighbouring areas.
“The area was subsequently filled up with refuse, having been used as a refuse dump since it was first cleared and it was on this filled dump sites that people started erecting sheds and shanty structures which gradually grew into a small community characterised by all negative features of urban slum settlement, including unstructured shelter arrangements, regular flooding, unhealthy environment, insecurity and people engaged in all sorts of nefarious activities.”
Ipaye added that the government had to repossess the area in line with its policy on the provision of estates with infrastructural facilities at concessionary rates for residential and commercial development.
He further debunked the allegation that there was no dialogue between the government and the residents before eviction or demolition, saying there were many meetings and a stakeholders forum where all affected people had a chance to state their grievances and make demands on what they expected from the government. He added that before the state embarked on the development of the 1,008 housing units in the area, the governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola also led other senior officials of the state to the area to sensitise the occupiers on April 26 and October 2, 2012 and had several other meetings with the community afterwards concerning its intention.
The AG said that the area of Badia in contention is one of the nine areas identified as slums and earmarked for regeneration under the world Bank funded Lagos Metropolitan Development and Governance Project (LMDGP) and reiterated that the state government is commitment to the welfare and protection of the rights of residents in the state.