A nursing mother, Maoteen Yisa; her baby, Atamah Braimah; and a 10-year-old boy, Paulsu Akiyah, have reportedly drowned while fleeing from officials of the Lagos State Environmental Sanitation and Special Offences (Enforcement) Unit in Ilubirin-Oju Olokun, a riverine community on Lagos Island, Lagos State.
PUNCH Metro reports that officials of the sanitation had invaded the community on Thursday night.
The officials were alleged to have destroyed the residents’ makeshift structures, as they chased them away from the area.
The victims, who were among 10 others in a boat, were said to be fleeing when their boat capsized.
While seven people reportedly swam to safety, the three were unaccounted for.
Their corpses were later found floating on Saturday and were recovered by their family members.
Traditional leader of the community, Simenu Peter, confirmed the incident to PUNCH on Sunday.
He said, “Four days ago, the task force officials came and chased residents again. That was around 11 pm. While some of them were running away on a boat, they had an accident. There were 10 of them in the boat; seven survived, but three died.”
Spokesperson for the task force, Taofeek Adebayo, said, he was not aware of any death.
“The Lagos State Government, through the task force, went there to clear the shanties in the riverine areas.
“The illegal shanties had been given 72-hour notice for them to remove their belongings. A study conducted around the shanties showed that criminals and hoodlums had turned the place to a den.
“These are the people terrorising motorists on the Third Mainland Bridge whenever there is traffic. And the government would not close its eyes and allow criminals to take over the area.
“Our intention for the place is to make the place safe for the populace. And majority of them honoured the notices that we served them. They had removed their belongings.
“It was only a few of them that refused to leave and when we got there, there was no resistance. Majority of them had vacated that place. We are not aware of any death; nobody drowned,” Mr Adebayo said.