Nigeria: Thousands forced to flee their homes amid gunshots and tear gas

Residents at the Otodo-Gbame waterfront community in Lagos, Nigeria, arebeing forcibly evicted and their homes destroyed by bulldozers as security services used tear gas and live bullets to clear the area, Amnesty International reports.

The eviction, which is ongoing at the time of writing, is being carried out in direct violation of a court ruling issued in January specifically prohibiting it. Residents were not served any notice prior to the forced eviction which came as a total shock.

“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.

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.
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.”

Amnesty International is calling for an immediate end to the ongoing eviction and for the authorities to respect the court ruling which prohibits them from carrying out forced evictions in waterfront communities.

Background:

Amnesty International has been documenting forced evictions in Lagos State for over ten years. These evictions are carried out without adequate prior consultation, adequate notice, and compensation or alternative accommodation.

On 9 and 10 November, 2016, over 30,000 residents were forcibly evicted from the Otodo-Gbame community. Following that forced eviction, residents rebuilt their structures, and have since then continued to suffer repeated attacks by private actors and security operatives seeking to evict them from the land.

Today’s eviction follows the 26 January, 2017 ruling of the Lagos State High Court in the above case in which the judge held that forced evictions are inhuman cruel and degrading, and a violation of section 34 of the Nigerian Constitution. The court subsequently ordered the parties to explore out of court settlement.  According to the judge, “the eviction/threat of forcible eviction of any citizen from his home at short notice and without any immediate alternative accommodation or sufficient opportunity to arrange for such alternative accommodation before being evicted from his current abode totally undignifying and certainly inhuman, cruel and degrading…”