I start this article with Olutimehin Adegbeye’s TED Talk, Who Belongs In A City, because with each month it becomes more poignant to the realities in Lagos state, and the impunity with which our leaders treat people they consider powerless.
When Timehin gave this speech, she was a social worker with the Just Empower organization, a non-profit that sought to advocate for housing for all. They had taken up the case of the citizens of Otodo Gbame, a seaside community that had been forcefully evicted by the Lagos state government as it sought to claim their land and resell it to luxury real estate developers. A court injunction had forced the Lagos state to stop its forced evictions but it ignored the court orders and did so anyway, using police officers and tear gas to force families out of their homes. Years have passed since Otodo Gbame, and the government continues its rampage.
This time around, their target was a lot harder to ignore. Tarkwa Bay a seaside cove has played host to thousands of Lagos residents looking for a slice of relaxation away from the bustle of Lagos state. Its residents have been accommodating and its beaches relatively peaceful. Many of the state’s creatives have told their stories within its towns. But now, the residents of Tarkwa Bay have been forcefully evicted by the government, who used the ruse of seeking out illegal oil bunkerers as their excuse.
Journalist Kiki Mordi, interviewed citizens from the town and did some recon on the aftermath of the forced removal of citizens and tells that the situation is bleak. The government has made no plans for compensation or relocation and is adamant in its lie that the forced evictions were merely a drill to flush out illegal oil bunkerers.
Yesterday after a no. of people reached out following #TarkwaBayEviction news, I called one of the community leaders & at first he assured me that there was no problem.
— Kiki Mordi (@kikimordi) January 22, 2020
When will Lagos state treat its residents as human beings, how long will it continue to steal from and oppress its most vulnerable citizens? How can you build a mega city through unpunished crime and impunity?