A nursing mother, Maoteen Yisa; her baby, Atamah Braimah; and a 10-year-old boy, Paulsu Akiyah, have reportedly drowned while fleeing from Lagos officials in Ilubirin-Oju Olokun, a riverine community on Lagos Island, Lagos State.
PUNCH Metro gathered that officials of the Lagos State Environmental Sanitation and Special Offences (Enforcement) Unit had invaded the community on Thursday.
The officials were alleged to have destroyed the residents’ makeshift structures, as they chased them away from the area.
The victims, who were among 10 others in a boat, were said to be fleeing when their boat capsized.
While seven people reportedly swam to safety, the three were unaccounted for.
The corpses floated on Saturday and were recovered by their family members.
The traditional leader of the community, Simenu Peter, confirmed the incident to our correspondent on Sunday.
Peter said the attack started three weeks earlier when some policemen attacked the residents.
“Three weeks ago, the policemen came around 9am and said we should vacate our community. They said we were hoodlums and we said no. I told them that we were fishermen.
“Later in the night, the policemen showed up again and beat up two people who were sleeping. One of them is still in a critical condition. Property, including sacks of foodstuffs, of the residents, was taken away.
“Four days ago, the task force officials came and chased residents again. That was around 11pm. While some of them were running away in a boat, they had an accident. There were 10 of them in the boat; seven survived, but three died.”
An official of the Centre for the Defence of Human Rights and Democracy in Africa, Maurice Fangnon, said the Dolphin Divisional Police Officer and Area A Commander had been informed of the first “unprovoked” attack on the community.
He noted that the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Edgal Imohimi, was also alerted to the incident, adding that the police leadership did nothing about it.
The spokesperson for the task force, Taofeek Adebayo, said officials of the agency went to the community, adding that the eviction was without any incident.
He said, “The Lagos State Government, through the task force, went there to clear the shanties in the riverine areas. The illegal shanties had been given 72 hour notice for them to remove their belongings. A study conducted around the shanties showed that criminals and hoodlums had turned the place to a den. These are the people terrorising motorists on the Third Mainland Bridge whenever there is traffic. And the government would not close its eyes and allow criminals to take over the area.