Take It Back Movement Condemns Arrest, and Subsequent Imprisonment Of Homeless Youths Taking Refuge Around Pedestrian Bridges, Says Government Criminalizing Poor People

The Take It Back Movement strongly denounces the callous actions of the Lagos State Environmental Sanitation Corps in their recent sweeps of the pedestrian bridges at Ikate Elegushi and Agungi, Ajah. The arrest of 13 young Nigerians who were merely trying to find shelter under the bridge or in the underpass is not only an egregious misuse of power, but also a chilling indication of the Lagos State Government’s apathy towards its most vulnerable citizens. This kind of inhumane treatment can never be tolerated.

We contend that the Lagos State Government’s inability to provide affordable housing is the core reason for the dire predicament of these vulnerable individuals. Sky-high rents and a crippling lack of suitable housing options have pushed many young Nigerians onto the streets. Rather than address this pressing crisis, the government has opted to treat these citizens as criminals, demonizing their desperate fight for survival.

The young Nigerians arrested in these raids are symbols of a much broader systemic problem that demands compassionate, human-centered solutions. They are not the root cause; they are the casualties of a broken system. To treat them as offenders, when in reality they are victims, is to perpetuate a cycle of injustice that fails to acknowledge the complexity and severity of the issue.

The Take It Back Movement is acutely aware of the pervasive and longstanding issue of poverty and homelessness in Nigeria. However, we vehemently argue that the government must confront this crisis from a stance of human dignity and respect, rather than punishment and censure. The Lagos State Government must acknowledge that homelessness is not a standalone issue, but a symptom of broader societal ills, including poverty, unemployment, and inadequate social safety nets. Only by addressing these root causes can real change be achieved.

In the face of this pressing humanitarian crisis, the Take It Back Movement urges the government to take a multifaceted approach that simultaneously tackles the underlying causes of poverty and homelessness, while also providing immediate aid and support to those in dire straits. Without this holistic strategy, any efforts to combat homelessness will be little more than a band-aid on a deeper wound.

The Take It Back Movement implores the Lagos State Government to refocus its efforts on creating sustainable housing options and attacking the structural issues that lead to homelessness, rather than deploying heavy-handed tactics that merely displace individuals from public spaces. Moreover, we demand the immediate and unconditional release of the individuals arrested in these raids, recognizing that their detention is a symptom of the larger societal injustices at play.

In summary, the Lagos State Government’s maltreatment of these young Nigerians is a chilling illustration of a system that values superficial image over basic human dignity. The act of arresting and criminalizing those who are merely seeking shelter not only violates their rights, but dehumanizes them, treating them as disposable. This kind of behavior is not only morally reprehensible but also reveals the inherent flaws of a system that prioritizes appearance over substance.


Sanyaolu Juwon
National Coordinator,
Take It Back Movement, Nigeria.


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