Posted by By Bertram Nwannekanma on
ABOUT 60,000 of the people forcefully evicted from Maroko by the Lagos State government 16 years ago have reportedly died as a result....
ABOUT 60,000 of the people forcefully evicted from Maroko by the Lagos State government 16 years ago have reportedly died as a result of the dislodgment and demolition of their houses.
The evictees were also said to have lost about N17 million as revenue that would have accrued to them if they were not evicted.
These disclosures were contained in an address titled: 'To Access 16 Years Impact of Forced Eviction and The Way Forward", delivered by the Maroko evictees' leader, Mr. Samuel Adeniyi Aiyeyemi, at the 16th yearly general meeting of Maroko community held at Lekki at the weekend.
Maroko, a community of over 300,000 residents, was between July 14 and 25 demolished by the military governor of Lagos State, Col. Raji Rasaki, who served under the Gen. Ibrahim Babangida-led federal administration.
According to Aiyeyemi, even after the admissions of guilt and verdicts of guilt, Lagos State government for the past 16 years has not been doing anything to rescue the over 80 per cent of the innocent souls callously pushed into violent tides of life.
He said that in the heat of the demolition, about 2000 of the victims who could not bear the hostility of rain and cold, found their ways into government's uncompleted and abandoned estates at Ilasan, Ikota and Epe. Where government later ratified their stay with letters of allocations, the remaining 8,000 out of 10,000 former house owners have been left in the streets across the nation for these 16 years.
Aiyeyemi said another highlight of the Maroko saga was the desperate efforts of government to create divisions among the evictees so as to weaken the leadership and deliberate failure to attend court cases during many proceedings at the Lagos High Court.
He said: "We believe that the government was doing that to frustrate us by elongating the case, so we might die, leaving the case to close naturally or that the Lagos State government is still looking for a judge whom they could make drunk to the extent of closing his mind against the self confessions and previous verdicts of guilt by both the Oputa Commission and the state House of Assembly".
He noted that since the demolished houses served as both residential and tenements yielding assets to the victims, the stoppage had led to perpetual poverty among the people with attendant loss of lives to the tune of 60,000 people.
"With this imposed poverty, we could not maintain our health, resulting in untimely and wretched deaths", he said.
On the way forward, Aiyeyemi said the attitude of the current government in handling the fate of the remaining 8,000 Maroko evictees had shown that ordinary Nigerians should watch closely our politicians during the coming elections because they have proved not to be trustworthy.
According to him, Nigeria stands indicted until government makes Maroko evictees happy, without which Nigeria might not survive the onslaught of Satan at the 2007 elections.
The Executive Director, Social and Economic Rights Action Centre (SERAC) a non-governmental organisation (NGO) concerned with campaign against forceful eviction by government or its agencies, Mr. Felix Morka, said the eviction of Maroko residents, re-christening it as 'Victoria Island Extension' and 'Lekki Phase One' and selling the land to the rich without recourse to the plight of the evictees, amounted to the highest man's inhumanity to man.
He called for prompt government's action in remedying the situation.
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