Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network

Homeless family in East Badia

Aug. 13 (GIN) – Local officials in Lagos, Nigeria, who accepted a $200 million loan from the World Bank to “increase sustainable access to basic urban services,” are instead creating an unaffordable complex of 1,000 luxury units on the grounds where poor and working people recently lived.

According to a new report from Amnesty International, partnering with the Nigerian Social and Economic Rights Action Center (SERAC), tens of thousands of Lagosians who lived in the Badia East area which fronts the scenic Gulf of Guinea, have been homeless since their devastating evictions in February on short notice. Self-built homes were bulldozed and the one-time residents were forced to sleep out in the open or under a bridge.

“The effects of February’s forced eviction have been devastating,” said Amnesty’s Oluwatosin Popoola.

It wasn’t the first time the Lagos government diverted money intended to improve life for the large riverine community. Since the early 1990s, grants from World Bank money for ‘slum clearance’ were instead the motive for the mass eviction of area residents without resettlement. In 1997, more evictions were ordered for some 2,000 residents who were chased off by armed guards from even salvaging their own possessions.

A new round of demolitions began in 2003 following a 48 hour notice, but was stopped midway by non-violent resistance. After a short interlude, the evictions resumed again in October 2003. Some 3,000 residents of Oke Ilu-Eri were left without compensation or replacement homes. Again in March 2013, hundreds of homes were demolished by the ‘Kick Against Indiscipline’ brigade.

In an interview with the New York Times, the Lagos state commissioner for housing, Adedeji Olatubosun Jeje, provided a different version of events.

“It’s a regeneration of a slum,” he said. “We gave enough notification. The government intends to develop 1,008 housing units. What we removed was just shanties. Nobody was even living in those shanties. Maybe we had a couple of squatters living there.”

The Lagos state Attorney-General claimed they were merely clearing empty land. “It was just a rubbish dump,” he maintained.

As for the new housing, “there’s not a chance they can afford it,” said Felix Morka, SERAC’s executive director told the Times. Badia residents earn under $100 a month on average.

“The Lagos state government has failed to comply with national and international law. It is high time that the Lagos state government and the Nigerian government stop forced evictions and enact legal safeguards that apply to all evictions,” said Amnesty’s Popoola.

Amnesty and SERAC are calling on the governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola, to publicly commit to stopping forced evictions, and on the World Bank to put safeguards in place to ensure it does not support any activities which may result in forced evictions in the future.