Home news Beninoise, Togolese Fishermen Lose Otodo-Gbame Community To Elegushi Royal Family (THE JOURNEY...

Beninoise, Togolese Fishermen Lose Otodo-Gbame Community To Elegushi Royal Family (THE JOURNEY SO FAR)

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In a twist to the drama that trailed demolition of structures
and shanties at Otodo Gbame Waterfront in Eti-Osa Local Government, the Lagos
State House of Assembly has declared Elegushi Royal Family as the rightful
owner of the land.
The House also absolved the royal family and the police of incessant
killings, illegal detention, harassment and continued intimidation of the
indigenes levelled against them in a petition over the true ownership of the
expanse of land historically known as Ebute-Ikate, which the fishermen
squatters refer to as Otodo-Gbame.
This much formed part of the resolutions of the State House
of Assembly passed at its plenary on Thursday, January 12, 2017, after debating
the report of an investigation into the allegations of harassment and
intimidation against one Mrs Adebayo, Oba Saheed Elegushi, Anofi Olnrewaju,
Segun Abdullahi Elegushi and top-ranking policemen from Jakande Division.
In the words of the State lawmakers:
“The said land called Otodo-Gbame is historically called
Ebute-Ikate, which is part of Ikate land that belongs to Elegushi family and
not the petitioners. Moreso, the petitioners, who inhabited Otodo-Gbame, are
(mostly from Egun tribe of Cotonou and Togo) squatting in the area without the
consent or permission from the Elegushi family.”
Consequently, the House of Assembly directed that “All land
owners along the coastal areas of the state should take ownership of their land
and report any emergence of shanties and squatters around their land to
forestall encroachment.
“His Excellency, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, the Governor of Lagos
State should direct appropriate Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to
take necessary steps to enforce compliance in respect of the setback policy on
development throughout the state.
“The police and other law enforcement agencies should
urgently distinguish between what operates as temporary fishing camps to
permanent live-in-shanties so as to prevent the illegal structures from
developing into problems for the State.”
For years, Otodo Gbame has been recognised predominantly as a
fishing village in Lekki. It boasted of ewe-speaking locals comprising Egun
speaking people from Badagry, Dahomey and Togo whose ancestors were among the
early settlers in the community for close to a century.
The indigenes have co-existed peacefully until early 2016
when the activities of sand dredgers started affecting their homes and means of
livelihood.
This development forced the community to demand an immediate
stop to the dredging activities at the Otodo Gbame lagoon by a certain Destiny
Dredgers’ International (DDI) Ltd, purportedly owned by Lekki Gardens.
‎The ‎letter signed by Dansu Hunkpe, the Baale of Otodo
Gbame; Paschal Tosinhun, a community leader and Emmanuel Anasu, the community
para-legal and addressed to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and Mudashiru Obasa,
Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly read thus:
“The sand-filling of our lagoon and fishing grounds has
caused severe hunger in the land. We no longer have money to send our children
to school since our fishermen’s work has been cut off.”
The land reclamation activity began around August 2016, with
the community watching helplessly as the massive dredging‎ destroyed their
fishing traps as well as cut off access to their traditional fishing grounds in
the lagoon.
To avoid violence and bloodletting, the slum dwellers, mostly
women and children, arrived the Government House around noon in commercial
buses (known as Danfo) chanting solidarity songs.

Among other things, the protesters said the dredging had
caused water from the main lagoon to stop flowing freely to and from their
community.
“It is affecting our community’s health – and leading to the
outbreak of disease that killed many of the children in our community. If you
visit our community today, the odour from the now stagnant water overwhelms the
senses such as we never experienced before now,” they wailed.
From the look of things at the moment, unless a miracle
happens, it is apparent that the recent declaration by the Lagos House of
Assembly has put a final nail to the coffin of the legendary Otodo Gbame
settlement.
Meanwhile copies of resolution passed by the House of
Assembly are posted below.

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Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis is a communicator, Journalist, blogger, business coach and, of course, a prolific writer. He has Dip (Journalism) and B.A. (History & International Relations) from the Lagos State University (LASU). The self-effacing young man has worked for national, regional and local newspapers. He had worked with THISDAY covered community news for ISLAND NEWS and corresponded with P.M. NEWS (evening tabloid). Presently, he is the editor of CITYPULSE MEDIA and senior correspondent of PHARMANEWS, West Africa foremost health and pharmaceutical journal.

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