A Non-Governmental Organisation, the Centre for Children’s Health Education, Orientation and Protection (CEE-HOPE) has criticised the Lagos State Government for the demolition of Monkey Village, an informal housing settlement in the Opebi area of the state.
In the morning of December 31, 2020, truckloads of policemen, taskforce officers and thugs descended on the community and with the aid of graders and bulldozers, pulled down the houses, displacing more than 400 persons including children. Many of the residents who had gone out for the day had their homes totally demolished with their belongings inside.
An ICT Centre and youth hub built in the community by CEE-HOPE was also pulled down with several computers, library and other gadgets intact in the building. Pleas by community members who had the key of the centre to retrieve the materials were ignored.
CEE-HOPE’s water project in the community was also totally destroyed. Several members of the community were also brutalised by the government-sponsored thugs, according to community sources.
After several denials by the Lagos State Ministry of Environment, the Lagos State Task Force office and other official quarters, the Lagos State Ministry Of Physical Planning & Urban Development: came up with a statement on Sunday January 3, 2021 accepting responsibility for the demolition exercise carried out on December 31, 2020, in Monkey Village. They gave ‘reclamation of wetland’ as the reason for the forced eviction exercise.
But in a statement on January 4, CEE-HOPE faulted the action of the Lagos State Government which it described as ‘crude, autocratic and a gross violation of all known laws and guidelines guiding the handling of such matters world over’ which has not only displaced 400 persons (currently homeless) but also endangering the educational dream of more than 200 of the community’s children.
‘It is indeed a crying shame that the biggest news out of Lagos every single year would revolve around the savage treatment of the urban poor,’ said CEE-HOPE’s founder/Executive Director, Betty Abah. ‘From Maroko, Makoko, Badia East, Iluibirin to Otodo-Gbame, and now Monkey Village, it is the same pattern of the gross abuse of the human and shelter rights of the urban poor, when Lagos is not the only state in Nigeria and when Nigeria is not the only place where we have slum settlement or indeed where the urban poor exists. Yet, the most painful for us was the destruction of educational facilities funded by private individuals and for the most vulnerable of children, and in a country with the highest number of out-of-school children, at a time of a global pandemic and during a national recession,’ she added.
According to CEE-HOPE, the latest statement from the government was part of the layers of lies bandied by the Lagos State Government in the last few days to cover up the atrocity committed against the poor residents of Monkey Village. From claiming it was a take-over of a land under contest in court, to saying it was a hoodlums’ hide-out, it has now framed a wetland narrative.
‘But whatever it is, how come there was no prior notice to the residents to at least take out their few belongings before they were crushed by the graders?
According to Abah, Monkey Village sits on about 10 plots of land which belongs to about seven individuals. The individuals then gave out the land to the residents pending when they are fully ready to develop the place and each land is overseen by some members of the community who are well known to the land owners. She stressed that the people are therefore not illegal occupants neither have they ever been served any evacuation notice.
Now that an agency of the Lagos State government has finally come out to admit culpability in the entire fiasco, CEE-HOPE is therefore demanding the following:
1. An apology to the community members for the gross violation of their rights, including the failure to follow due process by duly serving them formal notice.
2. Compensation of every one of the community members for lost personal and household belongings.
3. A relocation of the victims of this arbitrary forced eviction as guaranteed by the UN provision on Housing Right.
4. Compensation of CEE-HOPE for the complete destruction of its multi-million Naira ICT Centre/Youth Hub in the community and water project.
5. A promise by the government to end all such arbitrary actions especially with regards to the urban poor in future engagements, commit to meaningful engagement of informal housing residents rather than the usual use of brute force, commit to upgrading of such settlements as is the current practice across the world rather than forced eviction which pushes the poor into worse levels of vulnerability.
6. That the Lagos State House of Assembly institute hearings into the incident, with a view towards addressing the issue and unearthing the personalities and real reasons behind this reckless, inhuman and lawless action which has been ongoing in this state unhindered, and which exacerbates the suffering of the poor and is in violation of the state’s supposed duty as the hope of the poor and vulnerable.
January 4, 2021
HOW RACHEL ONIGA DIED AT 64
Veteran movie actress, Rachel Oniga has passes away on Friday. According to the family, the actress died of heart disease.
The actress reportedly died Friday night in a hospital in Lagos.
In a statement yesterday by the deceased’s sister, Deaconess Toyin Odusote, Oniga, who passed away at the age of 64, had been battling the ailment for some time now.
The statement read in part:
“With a heavy heart and total submission to God, we write to announce the passing of our beloved sister, mother and grandmother, Chief Rachel Tabuno Oniga .
“She died in a Lagos hospital at the age of 64 , on Friday, July 30, 2021 at about 10 pm.
“Contrary to diverse reports informing that she died of COVID-19 complications, we write to inform the general public that she died of heart related issue, an ailment she battled for a short period before her demise.
“We accept her sudden transition as God’s design and we see it as a function of a race of life well finished.
“Painful as it may, we accept it in good faith and total submission to her Maker.
“We, therefore, desire to be allowed to mourn her death privately for now, as we do cause with deep sense of respect for her soul and the glorious life she lived.”
Burial arrangement would be announced in due course by the deceased’s family, the statement promised.
The deceased reportedly had been on Kunle Afolayan’s movie set in Mowe area of Ogun State since last week.
Biography and Profile of Rachael Oniga
An indigene of Eku in Delta State, Oniga was born on 23 May 1957 in Ebutte Metta, Lagos State. She began her acting career in 1993, shortly after her divorce. She worked briefly at Ascoline Nigeria Limited, a Dutch Consultant Company before her first movie titled Onome and her debut Yoruba movie was Owo Blow. Over the years, Oniga has featured in notable Nigerian films such as Sango, a movie scripted by Wale Ogunyemi, produced and directed by Obafemi Lasode and Wale Adenuga’s television series, Super story.She was one of the famous Nigerian Actresses who played a role of a mother in movies. Although featured mostly in Yoruba movies, she was also active in Nollywood English movies.Among the movies she featured are Sango in 1997, Out of Bounds in 1997, Owo Blow 1997, Passion of Mind in 2004, Power Of Sin, Restless Mind and Doctor Bello in 2013, 30 Days in Atlanta in 2014, The Royal Hibiscus Hotel in 2017, Power of 1 in 2018, The Wedding Party and My Village People 2021.
Oniga is survived by three children and several grandchildren.
EXPECT DEVASTATING FLOOD, FG Tells Benue, Others.
Benue State and all the states around the Rivers Benue and Niger basin including the FCT should expect to experience devastating flood between August and October, the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA), has predicted.
NIHSA, an agency of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, earlier predicted the recent flooding in Lagos, Nasarawa, Anambra, Abia, Kwara, Kaduna, Rivers, Enugu, Borno and Ondo states as a result of heavy local rainfalls. The situation was aggravated by poor drainage system.
The Director-General of the Agency, Engr. Nze Clement Onyeaso, in an interactive session with journalists in Abuja on Wednesday, said all areas earlier identified as flood prone this year as well as those along the Rivers Niger and Benue might likely begin to experience more devastating flooding from the end of August.
“Nigeria is located within the River Niger Basin which is occupied by nine countries namely Benin, Burkina- Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Cote d’Ivore, Guinea, Mali, Niger and Nigeria. Nigeria is located at the lowest position of the Basin and this means that once the upper catchment of the Basin gets flooded, Nigeria should be prepared to experience flooding. The period of flooding in these upstream countries is August and September of every year,’’ he said
According to the DG, NIHSA was monitoring the development as the world approaches these critical months, adding that the agency would also continue to monitor Cameroonian authorities with regards to flood scenarios in the upper catchment of the sub-basin.
Engr. Nze warned Lagosians against the practice of dredging and sound filling the Atlantic Ocean, to build what they usually call model cities like those in Lekki and Banana Island, saying such may, in the future, pose serious threats.
As part of the preparation for the expected floods, the DG called on Nigerians, especially the state governments to be fully prepared by ensuring cleaning of blocked drainage system and canals remove refuse, weeds, water hyacinths and floats on water channels.
The Agency had earlier predicted that 121 LGAs in 27 states and FCT might experience severe flooding this year.
Oche Onu writes from Lagos
Abducted Uni. Agric Makurdi Students Released
Two abducted students of the Federal University of Agriculture Makurdi (FUAM), in Benue State, have been released by their abductors.
An unspecified number of students were reportedly taken away at gunpoint on Monday while studying in a theatre hall at the College of Engineering on campus, the school authority declared.
Their release was confirmed on Wednesday by the institution’s Director of Information, Protocol and Public Relations (IPPR), Mrs Rosemary Waku, Who disclosed that the students have regained their freedom.
Waku said two of the kidnapped victims were freed from their captivity on Tuesday while the others (unspecified) earlier escaped from their abductors.
“The students of FUAM that were kidnapped have been released.
“The two students, Israel Farren Kwaghgee and Solomon Salifu came back to campus yesterday (27/4/21),” the IPPR director stated.
According to Waku, the released students were “currently” undergoing medical attention.
In the same vein, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) for Benue command, DSP Catherine Anene, confirmed the release of the abducted students:
“Kidnapped students of the University of Agriculture have been released unhurt. Investigation into the case continues please,” she said.
Anene added that no ransom was paid.
There were however no further explanations from the two authorities about the circumstances surrounding the release of the students. Their abductors had earlier allegedly placed a demand of N21 million for their freedom.
Oche Onu writes