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Where Is The Right Of The Homeless? Debates Arise as 86 Homeless Residents get Arrested in Lagos at Midnight

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The Lagos state government in their characteristic mode of taking “military-like” sweeping actions have scored another point with a mass arrest of its residents, leaving many wondering if these actions are aimed at solving existing problems or creating more. Recently, commercial motorcycles Okada were banned from moving along major roads in Ikeja. This has turned a lot of residents to long distance walkers as they now have to trek distances where there are no available alternatives.

Yesterday, Wednesday 28th March 2012, between the hours of 11pm and 1am, some officers of the Lagos State Task Force on Environment and Special Offences (Enforcement) Unit arrested 86 people in the state. Punch News reports that the “86 suspected illegal squatters, food vendors and aliens in Ikoyi area of the state” were arrested “for not having definite residential address and means of livelihood.”

The report further states:

“It was learnt that the arrest was in response to complaints by residents of the area about the presence of illegal squatters in uncompleted buildings and makeshift shops. It was also learnt that the report of a security investigations conducted by policemen did not favour the squatters, as they were classified as security risk.
Task Force Chairman, Bayo Sulaiman, subsequently led policemen that raided the area between 11pm and 1am on Wednesday.
Sulaiman said those arrested were found in abandoned houses, shops and were food vendors and aliens. He said some of them were suspected to be part of criminal gangs terrorising Ikoyi residents.
The Chairman said, “They were arrested at Lugard Street, Bedwell Street, Glover Street and three different spots in Parkview Estate. Those arrested were those selling and living in shanties and those living in uncompleted buildings.”
Sulaiman explained that the food vendors were arrested because they usually sell food to suspected criminals squatting in uncompleted buildings. He said the raid would continue because government wanted criminals out of the state. He added that the government would no longer tolerate people living in uncompleted buildings, saying a large number of them were criminals.
Sulaiman said, “Those arrested will be further investigated and charged to court.”

It’s bad enough that these people were homeless and living in uncompleted buildings and makeshift shops. Their plight has now been compounded with this arrest.

How shocking would it have been for them to be arrested at the time when they thought it was time for sleep. But now that the deed has been done, will they have access to proper legal representation if charged to court? Does this solve the problem of homelessness of which Lagos state has a glaring popularity for?

Aside from the reason of wanting to rid the streets of criminals, maybe the government should come out and tell us how they intend to ensure that the innocent ones get justice because definitely not all 86 of them deserve to be thrown in jail. Except if homelessness has now become a crime.

News Source: Punch News

Adeola Adeyemo is a graduate of Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from University of Lagos. However, her passion is writing and she worked as a reporter with NEXT Newspaper. She believes that anything can be written about; anything can be a story depending on the angle it is seen from and the writer's imagination. When she is not writing news or feature articles, she slips into her fantasies and creates interesting fiction pieces. She blogs at www.deolascope.blogspot.com

16 Comments

  1. hotchoclate

    March 29, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    If they can prove their innocence then they should be set free,if not pls and pls send them back to their respective home states. why do i say so? driving through Osbourne you see full grown men trying to out smart you and wipe your front glass when you are not looking (now that smells criminal to me) secondly last Friday my brother went to Queens drive in ikoyi just by French Embassy for a meeting by the time he got back to his car it had been vandalized (brain box,the locks,side mirrors) name it they were all gone all the other cars (corolla)parked on that axis too, broad day light!!
    if you have not been robbed in traffic b4 you wont understand my sentiment.

  2. chinonyyy

    March 29, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    @ hot chocolate –i feel you and agree with you..but these are Nigerians like u and me, they are free beings not cursed beings struggling to make a living..
    its sad that the evil ones among them have caused all to suffer the humiliation and assault..
    I pray Lagos State Govt grants them their freedom asap and possibly create jobs or makeshift homes where they can live and make a living..

  3. Layo

    March 29, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    Until there are homeless shelters or some other alternatives for these homeless people, I don’t think it’s right for the government to arrest them. Lagos is not the only city in the world with homeless people, but at least in other Countries attempts are made to control these people by giving them alternatives which to the best of my knowledge are not available to these folks.

  4. e-bukun

    March 29, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    As a matter of opinion, I support the Lagos state government, to a certain extent at least. While I understand that the circumstance of each individual’s homelessness is different, I have also experienced how criminals have taken advantage of these situations to terrorize others.

    If there’s anything that needs to be improved in Nigeria, it is definitely security. I think that the government should adopt a means of accounting for every citizen – we have too many illegal squatters who aren’t Nigerian. I propose issuing identification numbers and setting up security borders across the state and country line. When each person is accounted for then it would be easier to rehabilitate citizens, either by state or zone. But steps have to be taken, it cannot be ignored.

  5. Sugabelly

    March 29, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    Obviously their crime is being poor.

  6. sunshine

    March 29, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    I’m sorry if I sound mean but if like me you’ve been attacked at gunpoint in lagos traffic both at night and during the day by a ‘poor homeless person’ you would be trying to give fashola a big kiss right now!! Please let’s leave sentiments out of this, people are being attacked EVERYDAY in traffic all over lagos and when the government decides to do something about it we start forming righteous? Seriously? In case you’re not aware loitering is actually an offence under Nigerian law, yes we should be concerned about the innocent elements amongst those arrested but trying to make it sound like the government dragged breastfeeding babies away from their mother is not the way forward!

  7. molarah

    March 29, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    I have mixed feelings about this one…with the Boko Haram and related cases it seems the most sensible step to take in ensuring security, but looking at the names of the streets they were arrested from I then wonder – hope they were not arrested just because their rich ‘neighbors’ were uncomfortable around them? And yes, as someone has rightly noted, they are humans like us – the government should be able to provide homeless shelter facilities with option for earning stipends through small jobs, so at least they can be mobilized back to their home towns or states.

  8. Laila Ikeji

    March 29, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    I agree wt hot chocloate’s idea – send back to their homestates. no be evrybody suppose stay lagos. you have cum n seen u cant make it, its nt a bad idea going bac to the village and taking to farming. aat least at your village, you have sm free accomodation. Lagos sef too hectic abeg. me i no evn fit work a 7am to 6pm job for that state.

    http://www.lailaikeji.com

  9. Gift

    March 29, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    Some of then dont have home, some are from the North, they started when they were very small, their present set them out, some of them are homeless, some dont even know where they come from, they believe that lags is no mans land, they cant try that in Abuja and some of them are from there, they are sent to do Alamajiri from their present, some of they rich Hausa men are also Alamajiri

  10. GOB

    March 30, 2012 at 1:05 am

    Send them back to their home states???? That’s quite unintelligent. You can’t deport people across state boundaries the last time I checked! If they commit a crime, charge them, if not, being homeless is not a crime, neither is being poor!

  11. nana

    March 30, 2012 at 7:42 am

    Think what Fashola should do is to create homeless homes for these people,with that he can know d criminals amongst them and moreso proper rehabilitation wld b able to be carried out,i saw them smtime ago in my area arresting Beggers n i was wondering y

  12. Tiki

    March 30, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Unfortunately, homeless people will forever be considered criminal because truth be told, most of them are. Besides, why will a food vendor be homeless? That means you have capital and are possibly even running a profit! Even poor people take the piss sometimes. I think rounding them up was a good idea – but the state government will have to finish the good work by providing low-income housing.

  13. Titilade Raji

    March 30, 2012 at 10:52 am

    Until there is a defined Social care responsibility section of the Lagos state government, tackling homelessness amongst other social mobility issues in the state; issues like this will not stop….. Having said this, it doesn’t make any sense for this sort of raid to be embarked as 1 there are no evidence what so ever to ascertain that these people are actually criminals!! They live in uncompleted buildings due to their individual circumstances…… In this article above ; this phrase is so not justifiable ; “food vendors were arrested because they usually sell food to suspected criminals” how on earth do you expect a food vendor who is just going by daily survival routine to know whether or not someone is a criminal ?????? For the sake’s of a legitimate Human right; can you do things right for once???!!!! Haba ………..A well constructed social care measure or these living in uncompleted building will continue!! shikena …….

  14. LPS

    March 30, 2012 at 11:38 am

  15. TrueTalkCritique

    March 30, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    This piece weighs heavily because I am of two minds on this. Having experienced daylight robbery on a Sunday afternoon on Awolowo Bridge by whackers is pretty scary and as a result, the raid is commendable. However, as a human being and also an educated person, I do not believe that raids are the solutions to the problems we face with squatters and the jobless youths. We need education, jobs and basic amenities! Education because it enlightens the people, jobs (don’t matter the kind of jobs) just jobs to help people make an honest living, and basic amenities such as Water, Light and Shelter….its a shame that such a rich nation that continually boast to be the giant of Africa cannot even provide the basic necessities for its citizens.
    If there was education and job opportunities in all parts of the countries, the enlightened mind will not seek greener pastures in shadow chasing Lagos.
    I agree with those that have said the people should be sent back to their towns/cities rather than being tried for trying to survive the harsh realities of being homeless and jobless in Nigeria.
    In the most respectful way (lol), Our leaders need to get their heads out of their own asses and really take a good look around them, open their eyes to the plight of the suffering citizen- of the father who would rather steal than let his child go hungry or die because he has no job to enable him provide or the little he earns does not guaranty his child that necessary health care that have become a thing of status (Private Hospitals)!
    I look at the faces of these people and all I see is helplessness, tiredness and just defeat…which is all I feel as well….all of this because I have no faith in the legal system….why try a man whose offence is squatting….seriously, are our leaders that ignorant? Are they that shallow minded to think that locking this people up will creates a better Nigeria?
    Get off your stupidly rich asses, out of your stupidly gigantic mansions and take a drive around Lagos and when I say Lagos, I mean places like Obalende, Ajegunle, Okokomaiko etc……. And just see the conditions in which people live!

    I have an Aunt who met a young man doing what we all know as ‘Alabaru’ in Lagos market and was completely drawn to him….long story short, she adopted him, sent him to school and dude now has a really good job and a family of his own. Moral lesson: I am not saying that people should do the same but just that in our own little capacity, let us help our own, the only thing that makes you better than the people on the streets is what you have which was brought by opportunities and such opportunities are what these people never even smelt! Be kind to those you come across, help in your own lil way. My father always said that you have not lived until you have made a major impact on someone’s life.
    It is so disheartening to see this but I do commend the coverage cos I believe that issues like this always be on the forefront of our fight for justice!

    Note: many more to say around the issue of an adequate Welfare system, the lackadaisical mentality of the Nigerian people, the youths who would rather be ‘area boys’ e.t.c… but I guess we all no this already!

    • love

      April 1, 2012 at 11:54 am

      God bless you for the truth.

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