How soldiers, navy forcefully evicted Tarkwa Bay island residents in Lagos
Residents of Tarkwa Bay in Lagos have lost their homes and are now destitute after their forceful eviction by the Nigerian military on the orders of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company, NNPC) for allegedly rupturing petroleum pipelines situated on the island.
Nigerian navy personnel shot in the air Tuesday as they sought to clear a waterfront community of 10,000 people in the latest mass-eviction around economic hub Lagos.
Bulldozers rumbled into Tarkwa Bay, a semi-rural area on an island in the city of some 20 million, as part of an operation the military say is aimed officially at stopping the looting of nearby oil pipelines.
“Soldiers have been in and out since the morning, shooting, and telling us to pack, pack, pack. They gave us one hour,” mother-of-four Minda told AFP.
“Nobody to help us carry, no cars. I have no where else to go to.”
Journalists heard gunfire during the operation as the island residents scampered to safety amidst threats to move their belongings.
The island residents shouted that they were being “scattered” by the security forces as they loaded boats with household items, diesel generators and business wares before making the journey to other parts of the city.
Tarkwa Bay, which is accessible only by water, is one of the rare areas left largely undeveloped despite the breakneck pace of construction in one of Africa’s most populous cities. It is close to Marina which houses the main Central Business District in Lagos.
Oil pipelines that supply Lagos run along beaches on the Atlantic coast in the area that are a popular escape for day-trippers from the city.
The Nigerian navy said the operation was aimed at protecting equipment belonging to the country’s national oil company from “vandals”.
“They build houses on pipelines and pump illegally,” Commander Thomas Otuji, a spokesman for the operation said.
“All people in the community aren’t vandals but if you don’t report it, you are part of it.”
Tarkwa Bay is the 24th community in the area that has received eviction orders as part of the broader operation by the navy, activists from the Nigerian Slum/Informal Settlement Federation said.
Tens of thousands of people have left their homes in surrounding areas since December 21 and their residences have been demolished, the organisation said.
Lagos has in recent years seen repeated forcible evictions of poor communities living in prime locations, especially along the waterfront, as developers look to cash in by building high-end properties.
But the Tarkwa Bay Community is not relenting as it has sought the support of some civil society organisations on the forceful eviction.
A coalition of the CSO’s in a statement at the weekend said the people will be suing the Nigerian government and military for the forceful eviction.
Read below the statement circulated to journalists by the Citizens Connect & Advice Centre, Charles Development Foundation and Just Empowerment Initiative (JEI)
Over the last four years, we have worked with the Atlascove Host Communities of in Tarkwa Bay Island (6 communities comprising of, Tarkwa Tarkwa Bay, Okun Ayo, Agbagbo, Ebute-Oko, Store and Ogogoro village) through our Good Governance Grassroots Project, to empower voiceless communities with the knowledge and skills to organize, engage and hold their elected representatives to account to bring about development in the community.
Today, members of these communities have been thrown out of their homes, some already have their houses and butchers broken as seen in the picture. On Tuesday, I was inundated with calls and messages from residents and community leaders that men from the Nigerian Navy gave residents an hour to vacate their houses, a place most of them have called home for over four decades.
We have restrained from posting about it until we have consultations with key members of the community and other stakeholders and gather facts to see that necessary actions are taken to address the situation.
Since the demolishment started the Just Empowerment Initiative (JEI), (an international organization supporting many evicted communities) has been helping with relief materials and supporting the homeless with building a temporary shelter at Agala, another community along the Lagos coastline. If you want to support please send relief materials and donations to the JEI (see pictures for details). You can drop your in-kind donation at the JEI office, 310, Herbert Macaulay Way, Sabo Bustop, Yaba, Lagos.
Tarkwa Bay Island has a public Primary and Secondary school, a primary health center, Police Post, Military base and other systems to show Government presence even though they lack other amenities. School children were in school when the Navy started shooting and chasing residents out of their homes, parents were separated from their kids, I can’t imagine the pandemonium. What’s the value of human life in this country?
The communities have INEC polling units, during elections, the residents vote for their “representatives” who visit them during the campaign and now there is a deafening silence from the State Government and lawmakers representing the Island. I would implore you to loan your voice to speak to all Government actors and speak up against this Injustice.
We believe in the power of media to advocate for justice, apologises in advance for tagging friends and acquaintance, we need you to contact their representatives to act on this issue.
You can contact Governor Jide Saanwolu, Senator Oluremi Tinubu and Jide Obanikoro (Federal Lawmakers representing the people of Tarkwa Bay). Hon. Rasheedat Abiodun ( The Chairman Iru/Victoria Island LCDA) and Hon. Gbolahan Yisawu (State Lawmaker) and many others who can help save voiceless people who have been rendered homeless.
Our organization Citizens Connect &Advice Centre and Charles Development Foundation will be supporting the JEI to take all necessary actions to enforce their fundamental rights and redress for the breach. Please join our efforts to save helpless coastal communities.