Victoria Island popularly called V.I is an affluent area that encompasses a former Island of the same name that sits between Lagos Island and the Lekki Peninsula in the Lagos Lagoon.
The town and island lies within the boundaries of the Eti-Osa Local Government. This article reveals many things you probably never knew about Victoria Island.
Before Victoria Island became one of the most revered areas in Lagos, it was just an Island surrounded by water. Though Victoria Island is Lagos State’s main business and financial hub and probably one of the most exclusive and expensive locations to reside in Nigeria, that status could change soon. With the emergence of Eko Atlantic – a sister city to Victoria Island, it’s only a matter of years before V.I begins to play second fiddle.
But as it stands, Victoria Island still has in its domain many blue chip local and international businesses which have their headquarters in the affluent area.
Before Nigeria gained her independence, the British colonial government began the process of filling in the eastern swamps to reduce mosquito breeding areas. The sand filling created a land bridge between Victoria Island and Lekki Peninsula ending its existence as a true island.
After independence, successive state governments expanded this development, culminating in the construction of a highway connecting Victoria Island to Epe. This activity, along with the rapid commercialization of Victoria Island, served to stimulate residential development along the Lekki-Epe axis, starting with Lekki Phase 1.
However, the area of the land bridge, composed of the former swampland, became a large slum called Maroko Town. Maroko housed many of the new migrants to Lagos State. This would later lead to human rights violation cries.
Residents of the Island complained about the large settlement of people in the former land bridge that had become the now ill-fated Maroko town. Worse still, it was then believed that some of the inhabitants of Maroko were not Nigerians.
On July 14, 1990, the erstwhile Military Administrator of the State, Raji Rasaki, with the aid of armed soldiers violently and forcibly evicted the residents of Maroko. Bulldozers moved in with reckless abandon and leveled Maroko.
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Maroko, the shanty town which was an integral part of Victoria Island was no more.
The actions of the ruthless Colonel RAJI Rasaki visited untold hardship and agony on as many as 300,00 inhabitants of the town whose original inhabitants were the Elegushi, Oniru and Oloto families of Lagos. This resulted in numerous injuries.
And contrary to the promise of the Raji administration then that the displaced inhabitants of Maroko would be adequately compensated and relocated to another place, many of the victims ended up losing their property and their land. The vast land that was once Maroko was reclaimed and parceled to rich men who now live in their opulent mansions in the so-called Victoria Island extension.
The erasure of Maroko from the surface of the earth which occurred during the regime of Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida was one of the largest and most widely reported forced eviction in the history of the country.
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The former residents tried to get compensation in the Nigerian court system. In December 2008 the Social and Economic Rights Action Centre (SERAC) and Debevoise & Plimpton filed a communication with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights stating that the eviction violated the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights
Modern Victoria Island is home to some of the finest bars, restaurants, hotels and clubs in Lagos and is the home of entertainment in Lagos
Today, the affluent neighborhood of Victoria Island is one of Nigeria’s busiest centers of banking and commerce.
The Island is home to many landmark establishments such as Law School, 1004 Flats, Nigerian Television Authority, National Open University and Dodan Barracks – former seat of power of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
If you are a new generation Victoria Islander, that is your history before you.