Celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of Lagos state come at a time when thousands of residents of the city who have been rendered homeless by forced evictions have not been provided adequate alternative accommodation, compensation or the necessary emergency relief they require, said Amnesty International Nigeria on Wednesday.
These celebrations emphasizing Lagos as ‘the city where dreams come true without discrimination’ are ironic given the recent forced evictions of the fishing communities along Lagos’ waterfront in the Otodo Gbame and Ilubirin areas of Lagos.
“Lagos has always opened its doors to people from all walks of life – poor and rich alike – but is now gradually becoming a city where you could be forcibly evicted from your home,” said Morayo Adebayo, Amnesty International Nigeria’s researcher.
Though there is a lot to celebrate 50 years after the creation of Lagos state, repeated forced evictions since 2013 have rendered at least 50,000 residents of informal settlements homeless.
“It is staggering to think that a megacity like Lagos still does not have a law prohibiting forced evictions and guaranteeing people’s right to housing.”
“The Government of Lagos state has consistently ignored calls to follow due process, including ensuring meaningful consultation, and providing compensation and adequate, alternative housing where necessary. During these forced evictions, state agents also use excessive force, such as firing live bullets and tear gas, while deliberately destroying the properties of residents,” said Morayo Adebayo.
In February 2013, Lagos State authorities forcibly evicted at least 9,200 children, men and women from Badia East, for a government building project, which remains incomplete to date.
In September 2015, the Lagos State Government forcibly evicted about 10,000 people from the remaining parts of Badia East, and from some parts of Badia West. Again, on 15 October 2016, hundreds of residents of Ilubirin were forcibly evicted by government agents, once more for a Lagos state public-private-partnership building project.
Between 9 November 2016 and 9 April 2017 more than 30,000 residents of Otodo Gbame were forcibly evicted from their homes and places of businesses, over alleged “security” and “environmental” concerns.
The rapid urbanization in Lagos is escalating the already staggering housing crisis in the state, as people who have been forcibly evicted remain homeless, and at risk of other human rights violations. They have not been provided with necessary compensation or adequate alternative housing and often live with friends and relatives, or sleep in canoes, or in other hazardous and unsafe places. People who are evicted also often lose their livelihoods and are therefore forced to rely on others to survive.
“Development must have human rights and justice at its core. As Lagos state looks forward to its next 50 years and plans towards being a “smart city”, it must find ways of righting the wrongs of its past by putting in place policies and laws to protect all residents against forced evictions,” said Mr Adebayo.
Amnesty International calls on the Lagos state government to stop forced evictions, establish a moratorium on all evictions until there are regulations in place to ensure that evictions comply with international standards; provide and guarantee adequate alternative housing, without discrimination, to all people being evicted who are unable to provide for themselves; and ensure that all persons forcibly evicted have access to effective remedies and the right to reparation.