According to Julius Oladele his community, Otodo Gbame, was demolished in November 2016. The human rights group, Amnesty International(AI), says Julius’ story is just one of more than 30,000 people who were evicted last year from their waterfront homes in Nigeria’s biggest city, Lagos, by the local authorities. Lagos is one of the world’s megacities with a densely populated city with more than 10 million people in which the state authorities are trying to tame it’s haphazard.
In addition, rickety constructions of wood and corrugated iron, are hastily thrown up to house the thousands of new immigrants that flock into Lagos in search of jobs and opportunities, that means 70 percent of the city’s population live in informal settlements.Eyewitnesses claimed that it was nearly midnight when residents of Otodo Gbame were woken by gunfire. Tear gas was used and homes were set alight. By daylight, a bulldozer moved in.Also in Ilubirin area in March 2017, Aliete Avosetien said she was woken by the sound of bulldozers just before her eviction.Although, She escaped alive but was injured.
However, the state government says these homes need to be demolished for environmental health reasons and because their environment sometimes serves as a harbour for criminals or illegal immigrants due to the proximity of the community to the water bodies.Lagos state authorities have claimed that those living in these communities were illegal immigrants from neighbouring Togo, Benin or Ghana, but many evictees counter this argument proving they are indeed Nigerian.
Lagos is surrounded by water from the Atlantic Ocean to the south and the lagoon which gives it its name. A waterfront property is a property developer’s dream. The cost of land is high and those who live on its stand in the way of huge profit for the state.Elizabeth Medejiten alleged that they were not sent any notice of eviction but were surprised by the unannounced demolition exercise.
The state government claims Otodo Gbame is a recent, temporary settlement but Elizabeth Medejiten disagreed as she claimed she was born in the community.Former residents of Otodo Gbame now sleep under bridges, in canoes on the water or have moved in with friends and family in overcrowded conditions in other waterfront communities that are similarly under threat.
Amnesty International estimates that some 300,000 more people are at risk of being made homeless as the state government pushes through its development plans of the megacity.Canoes with makeshift roofs over them are being used as shelter by evictees from a community in Lagos.
For most Lagosians, housing is a constant worry due to the city’s population growing at a rate of nearly four percent every year.
In June a court ruled that the evictions without resettlement were unconstitutional. It ordered a halt on further forced evictions without consultation and agreement to provide alternative accommodation but the government has yet to comply. In the meantime, Elizabeth Medejiten, Julius Oladele and Aliete Avosetien sleep where they can, looking out onto the newly built but still empty luxury housing, wondering where their home could be in the megacity.
Source: CBC News