Nigeria: Left with nowhere to go: Stories of survivors of forced evictions in Nigeria's mega city

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Survivors of forced evictions in Lagos, south west Nigeria are homeless and without livelihoods. They are the urban poor whose rights to adequate and affordable housing has been strangled by a mega city project.

These people want to return to their homes; they want their means of livelihood back.

In 2017, Amnesty International published a report, The Human Cost of a Mega city: Forced Evictions of the Urban Poor in Lagos Nigeria (AFR 44/7389/2017). The report documented how Lagos state authorities forcibly evicted over 30,000 residents of Otodo-Gbame community from their homes in three forced evictions between 9 November 2016 and 9 April 2017 and approximately 823 residents of Ilubirin community on four occasions. All the forced evictions occurred without prior consultations with affected residents.

Two years after, most of the evictees remain homeless and are living in desperate poverty. Many of them are living in deplorable conditions in several of the waterfront communities around Lagos. They had to ask residents of other waterfront communities to accommodate them, and in some cases up to 20 people are living in one room. The redistribution of Otodo-Gbame residents in other waterfront communities has resulted in increased pressure on the meagre resources available in those communities.

Survivors of the forced eviction who are mainly fishermen and fish sellers, reported that the eviction had destroyed their livelihoods. From June 22-24 2018, Amnesty International's researcher visited three waterfront communities, Ajah, Makoko and Oreta [Ikorodu] where most of the evictees from Otodo-Gbame now seek shelter.

The Lagos State authorities have failed to provide residents of Otodo-Gbame with alternative housing and/or compensation for the loss and/or damage to property caused by the forced evictions. They have also not provided any relief or rehabilitation for those who lost their livelihoods. While evictees are left homeless, the lands they formerly occupied is being developed into luxury real estate jointly owned by the state government and a private company.

The authorities have also failed to initiate independent investigations into the forced evictions and the excessive use of force by members of the police and military. Thousands of families are now separated and more than 100 children have been forced to stop their education. When Amnesty International spoke to the forcibly evicted families, they were unequivocal in their demands - they want their homes and means of livelihoods back.