Amnesty International and the Social and Economic Rights Action Centre (SERAC) have condemned Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola and his administration for embarking on the demolition of the Badia East area of the state without consideration for the rights of the people.
The two notable groups on Monday said about 9, 000 were affected by the government action, which occurred on February 23. They also accused the state government of failing to give residents adequate notice or relocating and compensating them as stipulated in international treaties, laws and agreements.
They argued that as against the government’s excuse that the area was a refuse dump that needed to be cleared, new evidence from satellite images reveal that the area was densely populated.
“The pictures taken before and after demolitions carried out by the Lagos State government on 23rd February 2013 clearly show that a densely populated area containing concrete houses and other structures was razed to the ground,” Amnesty International said.
It is estimated that close to 9,000 residents of Badia East lost their homes or livelihoods. However senior officials in the Lagos state government had claimed that the area was a rubbish dump.
“The effects of February’s forced eviction have been devastating for the Badia East community where dozens are still sleeping out in the open or under a nearby bridge exposed to rain, mosquitoes and at risk of physical attack,” said Oluwatosin Popoola, Amnesty International’s Nigeria researcher.
The organisations called for an immediate end to mass evictions in the state until safeguards have been put in place to protect people from forced eviction. The report highlights the devastating impacts of the forced evictions on the residents’ lives.
“Many women whose small businesses were demolished on 23rd February described how they are now dependent on family and friends for basic necessities. Some said that they are suffering from malaria or typhoid after living in the open but can no longer afford to pay for medicines and treatment,” the Amnesty International said.
Executive Director of SERAC, Felix Morka also said: “the government must immediately provide effective remedies for the violations it has committed and provide all those affected with adequate alternative housing and compensation.
“The effects of February’s forced eviction have been devastating for the Badia East community where dozens are still sleeping out in the open or under a nearby bridge exposed to rain, mosquitoes and at risk of physical attack.”
The government has stated that the 23rd February eviction was the first phase of its plans to clear out the whole of Badia East in order to ‘redevelop’ the area. However, the organisations believe that if these plans proceed as described, tens of thousands will be at risk of forced eviction and face possible destitution.
Amnesty International quoted Bimbo Omowole Osobe, a resident of Badia East and victim of the demolition exercise, as saying that “shelter comes first in everything in life, when there is shelter whatever you have you can live with; but when there is no shelter how do you survive?”
Residents of Badia East said they were given no notice about the eviction, which was carried out with bulldozers and armed police. The community had no time to salvage any belongings from their homes before the demolitions began.
Though Lagos State Attorney-General acknowledged that people had been evicted when the area had been cleared, Lagos State Commissioner for Housing told Amnesty International in a meeting that the area cleared during the demolition contained no houses and was just a rubbish dump. Amnesty International thus commissioned satellite imagery that it said clearly exposed government’s claim as a fabrication.
“A photograph taken before the demolition on 8th February 2013 very clearly shows high density structures, which contrasts markedly with a later image, taken on 8th April 2013, which shows that the structures have been razed to the ground,” the report said.
A survey carried out by community members with the support of SERAC estimates that at least 266 structures that served as homes and businesses were completely destroyed, affecting an estimated 2,237 households.
“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 stopped forced evictions and enacted legal safeguards that apply to all evictions,” Popoola added.
Amnesty International said this situation, and the issues it raises, is unfortunately characteristic of a broader pattern of forced evictions by the Lagos State government.
In numerous forced evictions documented by SERAC and Amnesty International, the group observed that the government failed to consult people to explore alternatives to eviction, provide adequate notice, legal remedies and adequate alternative housing.
“The Nigerian government must impose a moratorium on mass evictions until it has adopted legislation to protect people from forced evictions, which are illegal under international law,” the groups concluded.
Source: Huhu Online
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