Protesting youths of Makoko area of Lagos allegedly attacked policemen yesterday, as they try to execute a court order on demolition of parts of the area.
In the fight that ensued, three persons were feared dead, but police refuted claims lives were lost. Seven policemen were however said to have sustained bullet wounds, while others reportedly fled the scene when it became apparent that the youths may overpower them.
The state government had two years ago began demolition of the coastal community occupied mainly by fishermen, claiming that the structures did not observe the mandatory 100 metres setback from a powerline installed on the lagoon.
The demolition was, however, extended beyond the lagoon, thereby displacing over 3,000 families, an action kicked against by a team of human rights activists on the ground that the residents were only given just 72-hour quit notice.
This resulted in a peaceful protest by the residents during which one of the traditional rulers, identified as Timothy Hunpoyanwa, was shot dead by a Police Corporal, one Pepple Boma, attached to the Marine Police, Oworonshoki .
His death sparked off another protest during which there was a call for the prosecution of the killer policeman as well as urging the Lagos State Government to compensate the family of the murdered community leader.
However, acting on a purported court order yesterday, a team of policemen were said to have stormed the area at about 8 am to provide security for officials that would carry out the demolition exercise, only to be taken unawares by the residents.
Eye witnesses said dangerous weapons were used and hoodlums were said to have hijacked the moment, reportedly vandalising vehicles plying the route and also looting shops in the area.
Spokesperson for the Lagos State Police Command, Ngozi Braide, confirmed the incident, saying “Policemen at Makoko at about 8am today (yesterday) went to execute a court order on demolition of certain area of Makoko.
“Youths of that area on sighting the policemen mobilised and launched an attack on them. They were armed with guns and other dangerous weapons like cutlasses, bottles, daggers, rods and sticks. Seven policemen sustained pellet injuries and are receiving treatment now.
“At this juncture, Police decided to withdraw to avoid innocent casualties. Security is heightened in the area and normalcy has returned, but no life was lost,” Braide said.