Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

October 07,2015

LAGOS— Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project.

Thousands of Nigeria’s poor call a plot of swampy land in Badia East near the Lagos port home. But bulldozers razed most of it shortly after a judge awarded the land to a traditional ruler last month.

Some residents like Oluwaseun Aiyenuro still live amid the rubble. His shack is his only shelter from Lagos’s seasonal rains.

“I just use a little bit experience for me to make it, to just be where I will put my head for the meantime because we do not know where we are going now,” he explained.

Slum demolitions are nothing new in Africa's largest city. Badia East was created in the 1970s after the government forced people off a nearby parcel of land. Local leaders say they have been fighting periodic eviction attempts ever since.

Then came last month’s demolition. Nothing was spared, not even the local clinic. Amnesty International and the Nigeria-based Justice & Empowerment Initiatives condemned the action as a violation of Nigerian and international law.

Advocates for Badia East say the slum was demolished to make way for a state housing project called the Home Ownership Mortgage Scheme. Part of that project is already being built on a section of the slum demolished two years ago. A state government spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

Bimbo Osobe lost her family home and everything in it. “What we were told here, I knew many were lied to, which includes me,” she said.

Osobe said no one in the community has received compensation. Despite the demolitions, some people have not moved on. They simply have nowhere to go.