20 March 2017

Nigeria: Demolition of Lagos Slum, Defying Court Order, Fuels Fears of More Evictions - Activists

The demolition of homes in a shanty town in Nigeria's commercial capital, Lagos, in defiance of a court order, has left thousands of people homeless and raised eviction fears among a further 300,000 slum dwellers, residents and activists said on Monday.

The homes of nearly 4,700 people in the Otodo Gbame waterfront slum were destroyed on Friday by bulldozers as security forces used teargas and gunfire to clear the area, said several rights groups, including Amnesty International.

The razing came less than two months after the Lagos State High Court ruled that planned demolitions of waterfront slums would be "inhuman", and said the government must enter into mediation with dozens of eviction-threatened communities.

The demolition has sparked alarm about the fate of more than 300,000 people living around Lagos' lagoon as the state targets dozens of illegal settlements on prime waterfront land to make way for luxury redevelopment in the megacity of 23 million.

"We are afraid for the people of Otodo Gbame and other informal settlements we work with across Lagos," Megan Chapman, co-director of the legal campaign group Justice and Empowerment Initiatives (JEI), told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"The ongoing court process was just beginning to give birth to a seed of hope among the urban poor that the courts might protect their rights and that they might be able to find win-win solutions in dialogue with government," Chapman added.

Emails and calls to the Lagos state government were not answered on Monday.

Some residents of Otodo Gbame saw their homes destroyed for the second time in five months, following state-ordered demolitions and fighting between rival communities in November which left an estimated 30,000 residents homeless.

Many are rebuilding their homes yet again, using scrap material from the demolition, as they have nowhere else to go.

"This is our land, our forefathers' land ... we are in sorrow" said Isaac Azim, a community leader in Otodo Gbame.

"I have six children, two are missing and we do not know where they are. So many people lost their money, their livelihood and everything," added Azim, explaining how people have been forced to sleep in the open on the razed land.

Leilani Farha, U.N. special rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, said she was shocked to hear that the state government was "actively ignoring the rule of law."

"It has defied the High Court Order and international human rights law by proceeding to evict - in the most brutal manner - individuals and families living in the Otodo Gbame community," Farha told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

(Reporting By Eromo Egbejule, Additional Reporting and Writing By Kieran Guilbert, Editing by Ros Russell; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit http://news.trust.org)


How Nigerian, Cameroonian Soldiers Mistreated Us in Camps - Victims

Women who live in refugee camps after surviving Boko Haram attacks have narrated how Nigerian and Cameroonian security… Read more »

See What Everyone is Watching

Copyright © 2017 Thomson Reuters Foundation. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 800 reports a day from more than 140 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.