Lekki Phase 1, Lagos, is undeniably one of the most coveted places to live in Nigeria.
With its luxurious real estate, exclusive lifestyle, and thriving businesses, it has become a hub for multi-millionaires, celebrities, and those with deep pockets.
It’s the heart of Lagos and a place to aspire to live in for any resident of Lagos state. But how much do we really know about Lekki’s origins?
It hasn’t always been glitz and glamour. In fact, its history is one of sorrow, tragedy, bloodshed, and even death.
Let’s take a trip down the history books and rewind time a little to get the full picture.
The Origin of Lekki Phase 1
Originally, Victoria Island belonged to the O’Neil royal family. In 1948, the Lagos Development Board acquired Victoria Island and relocated the inhabitants to a nearby area called Morocco.
After independence, Victoria Island blossomed into a commercial and business hub, and in the 1980s, the Lekki-Ajah Expressway was built, connecting Victoria Island to Epe.
Development and the nearby American settlement became a hub for people who wanted to live close to the developing city that Victoria Island had become. However, Morocco was in essence a flooded area and a slum.
The living conditions were unpleasant, and compared to the nearby Victoria Island, Morocco was an eyesore.
The Eviction of Morocco Lekki Phase 1
The nearby residents had had enough and complained to the military governor of the state, Raji Rasaki.
According to the government, the land was 1.5 meters above sea level and was therefore liable to flooding and complete submergence.
They claimed that Morocco’s total environment was unkempt, dangerous, and presented a risk of disease epidemics.
Therefore, Morocco was cleared in the overriding public interest, and to give room for good planning, so as to make life more pleasant, safe, and convenient for those evicted.
In the first week of July 1990, the residents of Morocco woke up to a radio broadcast by the government, announcing that they were being evicted.
Morocco was to be demolished, and they were given eight days to pack up and leave. These were people who had families, who had built houses and businesses, and all of that was to be destroyed.
They tried to appeal to the courts, but seven days later, before the eight days notice had even expired, the military stormed Morocco with bulldozers and tore the town down.
Over 300,000 people were forcefully evicted from Morocco that day.
The soldiers showed no mercy; residents were brutalized, several people lost their lives, and there are reports that women were raped.
The Rich Versus the Poor
You might be wondering if this forceful eviction was aimed at urban renewal or if it was a government-backed land-grabbing exercise.
In 1989, former military ruler General Babangida visited Morocco and promised to bless them with development.
The Dideolu estates in Oniru, which belong to the Awolowo family, are cited in a portion of what used to be Morocco.
Legalia Gorindi, the former chief judge of Lagos state at the time, is also alleged to have played a role in subverting justice.
He had refused to listen to a plea by the Morocco residents for an extension of the eviction deadline, and then after Morocco had been ruined, he told them that the subject’s matter had already been destroyed and that they, the evictees, had no case.
Today, Lekki-End Street is named after him, and he’s also a landowner in the same area.
What else do you know about Lekki phase 1? Feel free to let us know in the comment section.