2nd August, 2011
At least 70 victims of last yearâ€™s Ajegunle flood disaster in Lagos, South West Nigeria have been arrested and arraigned at the Court 1, Ikeja Magistrateâ€™s Court for holding officials of the Lagos State Government hostage for hours.
Some of the flood victims, who were decamped from the Lagos State Relief Camp, Agbowa, Ikosi-Ejinrin Local Council Development Area, LCDA went on the rampage on Friday over allegations that they were short-changed by officials of the Lagos State Emergency Management Authority, LASEMA.
The victims locked up officials of LASEMA, including its Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Femi Oke-Osanyintolu for eight hours, saying they were angry over the alleged shoddy manner they were treated and took laws into their hands.
Officials of the Lagos State Taskforce on Environment and Offences (Enforcement) Unit and the Rapid Response Squad, RRS, were mobilised to the scene and arrested 70 of the victims who took part in the violence.
According to the Taskforce Chairman, Supol. Bayo Sulaiman, some of the victims had been arraigned in court for holding government officials hostage for hours, saying that the remaining ones would be arraigned in court today.
He said while they had the right to protest, they were not supposed to hold anybody hostage as the act constituted a criminal offence and punishable under the criminal laws of the land.
Sulaiman added that they received a distress call from LASEMA officials and that the Taskforce and the RRS had to race to the scene to bring the situation to normalcy, saying that it was the police that rescued the locked up officials.
Meanwhile, hundreds of victims of last yearâ€™s flood stormed the State House of Assembly and the Governorâ€™s Office in Alausa, Ikeja on Monday to protest the alleged non-payment of what they described as compensation the state government had early promised them.
They said the government ought to pay them N250, 000 and that when they were paid, they saw different sums of money on their envelopes, saying that some were given N25, 000, some N5,000 and others N1, 500.
The protesters carried placards with various inscriptions such as â€œOsanyintolu, abeg pay our entitlement,â€ â€œThe flood victims that were camped at Agbowa are crying for justice,â€ â€œOsanyintolu treated us like prisoners,â€ â€œWe want our people detained at the task force office to be released,â€ among others.
Mr. Joshua Ojebo, who claimed to be one of the victims said that they were moved to the camp on 12 September, 2010 after Governor Babatunde Fashola had assured them that there was provision for them.
â€œThe governor told us that he had provided everything we needed and that we should leave our properties and we did. At the camp, Osanyintolu treated us like animals. He was giving us fish instead of meat. They would bring a cow into the camp, but after killing it, the meat would disappear. His in-law was the one who was in the kitchen and she never treated us well,â€ he lamented.
He stated that on 29 July, the LASEMA boss came into the camp with journalists and camera men and told them that he was there to give them the money promised them, adding that this caused jubilation and that the victims praised the government.
â€œThen he asked all of us to go outside the camp and while addressing us, he said the government would not be responsible for our welfare henceforth. He took out a list and started calling names and handing over envelopes containing the money.
â€œWe realised that the names he was calling were not part of us. We donâ€™t know where he got the names from. The few names among us that he called were given between N1, 500 and N25, 000.
â€œSome saw N9, 500 whereas last week, we heard through the media that he was going to give each family N250, 000, while the bachelors and spinsters among them would get N150, 000 each,â€ he alleged.
However, the LASEMA Boss,Osanyintolu debunked the claim of the protesting flood victims, saying that they were not part of the severely affected victims that were enumerated last year.
According to him, the 1,100 internally displaced persons that were at the camp were duly settled, adding that this constituted 254 families which were given N50, 000 each and signed appropriately after collecting the money.
â€”Kazeem Ugbodaga & Eromosele Ebhomele