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Wed. Apr 17th, 2024

Otodo-Gbame is an informal fishing community around Lekki axis in Lagos state.
Recently, the Nigerian police demolished the homes of more than 4,700 people in Lagos as they clear the area in defence of court order. Thousands of people residing in the community took to their heels as security forces used gun fire and tear gas to make way for demolitions. Speaking with some of the residents, they explained that they received no warning before their homes were demolished.

One of the policemen confirmed that in October last year, Lagos state authorities announced plans to demolish all irregular structures in water front communities across the state. He further explained that such settlements pose security threat linking to high rate of kidnapping in the state.

More than two million people have been forcibly evicted from their homes in different parts of Nigeria since 2000. These evictions are carried out without adequate prior consultation, adequate notice and compensation or alternative accommodation. Most were already marginalized and many had lived for years without access to clean water, sanitation, adequate health care or education.

Nigeria is a party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and other international and regional human rights treaties, which require it to exercise the right to adequate housing, and to prevent and refrain from carrying out forced evictions.

However, the state government plans to establish development projects around the area which had led to the dislacement of about 30,000 people as a result of deliberate fire alighted in the area in November last year.”We’ve never before had a ruling like this that forced eviction and demolition which constitutes a violation of the rights of dignity,” Megan Chapman, co-director of JEI (Justice and Empowerment Initiatives), explained to the Thomson Reuters Foundation. He also said that the ruling could mark a turning point in the battle over housing in the fast-growing city of 23 million people, obliging the state government to find alternatives to demolitions. The governor of Lagos state, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode said evictions across the city are necessary to protect Lagos residents from kidnappers and criminals hiding in the slums

Consequently, Amnesty International condemned the action, describing it as a violation of the right of the Otodo Gbame people. Amnesty International (AI) also called on the Lagos State Government to put an end to the ongoing forceful eviction of residents of Otodogbame. It also called on the authorities to respect the court ruling which prohibits them from carrying out forced evictions in waterfront communities.

“The scene at the moment is chaotic and dangerous for the thousands who live in the Otodo-Gbame community. The military and police are out in full force and are using tear gas and live bullets to disperse the residents. There are four bulldozers ripping through the settlement,” said Morayo Adebayo, Amnesty International’s Nigeria researcher.

“This brutal and illegal act flies in the face of human dignity as well as a High Court Ruling that prohibited the eviction taking place and instructed the authorities to instead seek a settlement with the affected communities. The Lagos State Government should ensure that the families who have been rendered homeless this morning are given emergency relief including adequate shelter, water, food and any medical care they may require.”

Julius Oladele, who along with his wife and two children, is a resident of Otodo-Gbame witnessed the eviction and told Amnesty International: “Almost all the houses in the community have been demolished. The only ones left are those on the water. They did not allow anyone to take their properties. They are chasing people away. My own house was destroyed this morning before I could rush back from work.”

As a matter of fact, the said area needs to be reformed for state development and security. However, the Lagos state government is expected to prove alternative residence for the victims in order to also reduce robbery in the country. Both concerned parties should reach out for a line of reconciliation in order for peace to reign.

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