Demolition of Lagos slum, defying court order, fuels fears of more evictions - activists

Mon Mar 20, 2017 6:44pm GMT

By Eromo Egbejule

LAGOS, March 20 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - 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.   Continued...

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