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Stop Forced Evictions Nigeria activist Ms. Bimbo Osobe

Stop Forced Evictions activist Ms. Bimbo Osobe has made a vow to spend her nights in the now razed slum area of Badia East in Lagos, Nigeria where Osobe once lived with her family and had a business. She is doing this to help bring the issues of the injustice of forced evictions to the attention of State and local officials in Nigeria, as well as the global human rights community. Image: SERAC

(WNN) Lagos, NIGERIA, WESTERN AFRICA: The ongoing problems of marginalization, discrimination and violence against those who have lived at the very bottom of society in the slums of Lagos, the largest city in Nigeria, is continuing as the Nigerian government continues to force the removal of those living in the slums.

Numerous slums surrounding Lagos have been the target of forced eviction for over a decade. In the summer of 2012 the Makoko waterfront area of Lagos systematically began a heightened forced eviction of families living there as city planners destroyed homes of the predominately fishing community who already were suffering under poverty.

To battle the ongoing situation in forced evictions, Amnesty International has just launched a #WriteForRights campaign petitioning the Governor Babatunde Fashola of Nigeria  tostop all forced evictions and to ensure that all residents evicted from their homes in February 2013 receive compensation and alternative housing.”

More than 2 million people have been forcibly evicted from their homes across Nigeria since 2000 in the cities of Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt, outlined Amnesty in a 2011 report.

In February 2013 Nigerian government officials ordered the forced eviction and demolition of 2,237 households in Badia East, a slum that is due east of the Mokolo waterfront area of Lagos. Now the fallout has caused some of those who hang on to the area to try to continue to run their small food and supply businesses from makeshift tents and ply-board tables set up in an environment surrounded by rubble. Those who lost their homes and businesses were given little to no notice when the evictions would begin, says the community. They were also given no compensation and no options for resettlement.

The situation has caused a legal backlashes too for officials in Nigeria who continue to move entire communities out of the way with impunity as local Lagos-based advocacy group SERAC continues to drive the issues of injustice home with ongoing litigation case appeals against forced evictions to the Lagos High Court.

“We cannot achieve mega city status with these slums. For instance, the Nigerian Breweries is very close to this area and there are some other industries around here. To allow a slum to remain here is not acceptable,” outlined Mr. Bayo Sulaiman, chairman of Nigeria’s Taskforce on Environmental and Special Offenses Unit last February. Sulaiman has been in charge of overseeing the statewide slum evictions and demolitions for the past year.

“There is no resistance from anybody, they were informed so there is cooperation. Some of them have removed the roofs of their buildings,” continued the Taskforce Chief.

But the story from those on-the-ground who are the most affected by displacement is the opposite.

“For 3 months I sleep here,” says an unidentified woman pointing to the ground. During the state-authorized demolition of Badia East she has been left without a home or a place to safely sleep.

55-year-old Ms. Bimbo Omowole Osobe is another woman who lost everything in the destruction of Badia East. Without a home, a place to sleep safely, or a location for her business she is now actively helping others find other places to go to so they can start to rebuild their lives.

But Osobe isn’t going anywhere herself, even though she has been forced to send her grown children away to a place that at the very least offers a shelter. She wants to stay where she can fight for justice against the government forces that have ‘destroyed’ her community.

“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?,” said Osobe to Amnesty International.

“Forced evictions by government agents are rife throughout Nigeria, often carried out with brutality,” says COHRE – Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, an advocacy organization working to alleviate suffering for those who have been forcefully evicted. “Thousands fear for their homes on a daily basis in Nigeria,” continued COHRE.

“Hundreds of thousands of families are affected by such evictions every year. Families forcibly evicted from their homes are rarely, if ever, provided compensation or alternative housing,” COHRE added.

A recent Nigerian government assessment of the Ebute Metta Makoko waterfront area in Lagos has announced that buildings in the area needed to be demolished due to high voltage electric lines that are too close to buildings.

The people who have lived in the area for generations are now fighting back against forced eviction from the only home they have known.

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As 266 structures, which included homes and businesses, were demolished during Nigerian State-auth0rized forced evictions in the Badia East community in Lagos, Nigeria those most affected were left in crisis, some without any belongings as bulldozers raked their homes to the ground. Police officials overseeing the demolition would not allow anyone to go in and gather up their belongings, say those in the community. Today those most affected by the housing crisis continue to protest and hope their voice can be heard. This March 1, 2013 Youtube video release is a production © Andrew Maki & Megan Chapman, Social & Economic Rights Action Center, Lagos, Nigeria.

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©2013 WNN – Women News Network
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