Posted by News Express | 13 September 2015 | 4,298 times
The Centre for the Defense of Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (CDHRDA) on Friday urged public office holders on the continent to focus on the plight of slum dwellers.
Prof. Maurice Fangnon, the Centre’s Secretary-General, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that many slum dwellers faced poor living conditions and eviction from their communities.
He spoke against the backdrop of claims and counter-claims over ownership of land in Otodogbame, a coastal slum in Eti-Osa LocalGovernment Area of Lagos State.
Fangnon said: “We are very much interested in the plight of thispeople because common people are supposed to live on earth. The earth is not only for rich people.
“But the system we are applying today is that the rich shouldcontinue living and the poor should be driven away to hell.
“Our Centre is out to shout in such cases for people who are incharge of law, security and others, to know that some people are stillsupreme on earth.
“There are still untouchables on earth – that they are free to carrygun, cutlass, and fire and go commit arson, rape, kill people and gofree.
“This is happening in Nigeria; the Nigeria that we are re-branding. We saythis is not possible, we cannot continue like that.”
Fangnon added that the CDHRDA had petitioned relevant authorities, includingsecurity agencies, over the alleged violations.
“Corruption,” he said, “should not be a continuous barrier to justice, and thatis what we are seeing in this case. Powers and monies are being used to stop justice; we are against it, we frown at it. We want the authorities in charge of law and order to hear it beforeit is too late.”
Residents of the community had on Thursday accused members of theElegushi family of alleged encroachment on their land, destruction ofproperty, rape, murder, and arson.
Mr.Hennu Akojenu, the community’s councilor said: “Our community hadbeen in existence for over 300 years, but in 2014 we saw a notice thatemanated from the Elegushi family, directing us to pack out.
“Within three days, their threats were carried out and 10 personslost their lives, including twin babies who burnt to ashes.
“On Sept. 5, 2015, several hoodlums with guns, machetes, cutlasses, and charms began to shoot sporadically at the water front and manyresidents took to their heels for safety. The shootings lasted till Monday, Sept. 7; we are still feeling thetrauma of the pains inflicted on us.”
An octogenarian, Mr.Wayidi Naneyon-Ponoh, said: “I am the grandson ofthe founder of Otodogbame.In fact, those challenging our right to this land grew up in our hands.
“We lived peacefully with their fathers since this community was founded.”
Naneyon-Ponoh also blamed successive governments of neglect.
Mr. Emmanuel Anasu, a youth leader, added that the Otodogbame had yet to benefit from previous governments.
“Most of the youths have not received any form of care from the government.
“We want to see basic amenities that will enable us escape frompoverty, nothing more.
“They should support the community technically, financially, and inthe area of tourism, so that this coastal community can be worthliving in.”
In his reaction, the Elegushi of Ikateland, Oba Saheed Elegushi, denied the allegations, saying: “It is important to first and foremost knowthe facts. You, visit the place and assess the soil there. Does it look like a place that has been in existence for 300 years?
“All these people are squatters from Banana Island, and other transit places. Are you going to tell me that somebody would be somewhere for 300 years and there would be no proper structures (on ground)?”
Otodogbame is said to be occupied by more than 3,000 people. (NAN)
•Photo shows a Lagos slum.
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