Nigerian urged to stop evictions

LAGOS. — Amnesty International has called on the Nigerian government to stop the violent evictions of people from waterfront communities in Lagos that have left 11 dead. The human rights organisation says 30 000 people have been evicted and 11 have died in midnight evictions in which police have set houses on fire, shot live ammunition and teargas at residents and then sent bulldozers in to destroy their homes.These fishing communities live on land that has become very desirable for property developers in a city where the rich mostly inhabit islands linked to mainland Lagos by long causeways. Three times in the past six months, the waterfront slums of Lagos have been forcibly — and often violently — evicted by the government The evictions have been carried out in defiance of court orders. Residents have told of children being killed by bulldozers.

“The children were still sleeping inside when the demolishers started tearing their house apart,” Pastor Ashegbon, a resident of Otodo Gbame, told the Guardian in May, while Pastor Mallon Agbejoye said: “We sleep in these piles of ruins. When it gets dark we make tents of mosquito nets and sleep inside them with our children. We are stranded with our family with no money and no shelter. Accommodation inside the city is expensive and we cannot afford it.” Celestine Ahinsu, from the evicted Otodo Gbame community, told Amnesty: “After a couple of days, we started seeing the bodies floating. I saw three — a man with a backpack and a pregnant woman with a baby on her back. The community youths brought the bodies from the water. The relatives of the pregnant woman and child came to take their bodies.”

Over 19 months, Amnesty Interviewed 124 people and analysed photos, videos and documents, including hospital records and court rulings. Forensic experts analysed photos of corpses of evictees, bullet casings and teargas canisters found in the Otodo Gbame community. Despite repeated evictions, hundreds of thousands of people still live in Makoko, wryly nicknamed the “Venice of Africa”, but Otodo Gbame is now just acres of white sand. — The Guardian.

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