|THIS MORNING (May 12, 2016), three out of a stack of six containers belonging to a maritime organization, Sifax Group, fell on some makeshift homes sheltering persons forcefully evicted from Badia-East, Ajeromi Community, Railway Line, Ijora, Lagos State in September, 2015. The fallen containers injured many, and caused the untimely and truly avoidable death of a lady named Ms. Ngozika Nwankwo reportedly aged 35years.|
This avoidable accident suffered by evictees who are citizens of Nigeria (and mostly indigenes of Lagos State) is a consequence of Government dereliction of duty following the demolishment of evictees property within the community at the instance of the Ojora Chieftaincy Family, with the notice and indeed support of the Lagos State Government who authorized the use of its’ security agencies and demolition machinery (bulldozers et al). Note that the said demolition was conducted without prior meaningful engagement with stakeholders, and due notice to the community members, leaving these hapless citizens at the mercy of inclement weather, and at the receiving end of so many- hitherto the demolition -avoidable accidents such as that witnessed earlier today.
Many of the distraught evictees including men, women and children of all age ranges, barely survive living out of makeshift structures- not even worthy of the tag shanty -some meters away from the railway line. Daily they struggle to eke out a living despite environmental, psychological, and physical health challenges among others that cloaks their existence; and yet woke up this wet morn to a freak accident that claimed the life of one of their lot and left others injured with little or no means to afford first aid treatment.
Persons who witnessed the incident suggest that the container fall resulted from the stacking of the set of containers by workers of the above organization on May 11, 2016; perhaps without due consideration to weight and gravity pull factors when stacking heavy objects. Rescue services and relief to some of the victims was provided by the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) and a detachment of the Nigerian Police Force from the Railway Division at Ijora Badia.
Spaces for Change’ (S4C) Godwin Ogla and a Community leader of Badia-East, Mrs. Biola Ogunyemi were present to monitor and collate information on the incident. There was a challenge getting the corpse of the deceased, which spent about eight hours within the vicinity of the organisation to the mortuary as the Police officials declined to use their vehicles for the evacuation citing official directives as the limitation. Succour eventually came when officials of LASEMA brought in a white Toyota Hilux vehicle to evacuate the corpse to the mortuary.
At an interview with Mr. Omoleye, the Divisional Crime Officer (DCO) and Mr. Uchenna, the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of the Division, it was confirmed that one of the executives of the organization was detained briefly and later released. Contact data of the Police officials were collected for a follow up meeting sequel to completion of the Police report to be prepared on the incident which would serve as one means to galvanise positive Government action on restitution to victims. Attempts made to get the audience of the Management of the organisation failed.
PROVISIONAL LIST OF PERSONS AFFECTED BY THE INCIDENT
- Jide James – injured
- Ayinu Ayoola – injured
- Babatunde Ayetomowo – injured
- Ngozika Nwankwo – deceased
SPACES FOR CHANGE demands that persons rendered homeless and vulnerable since September 2015 be given immediate humanitarian assistance, including adequate temporary shelter while long-term solutions are processed as due within clear timelines communicated to all stakeholders in line with the Government’s stated objective to promote development through peace.
Ms. Aizighode Obinyan is the head, Advocacy and Administration Department at Spaces for Youth Development and Social Change (Spaces for Change). She holds a Bachelor of Laws Degree from the University of Benin, Benin City. She can be reached at Aizighode@spacesforchange.org