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Forced evictions hit 9 000 in Nigeria

12 August 2013, 18:27

Lagos - Forced evictions in Nigeria's largest city Lagos have cost at least 9 000 people their homes or livelihoods, Amnesty International and a local rights group said in a report Monday.

Tens of thousands more could be at risk if the government proceeds with plans to redevelop the slum area of Badia East, said the report, issued jointly with the Social and Economic Rights Action Centre (SERAC).

Residents said armed police and bulldozers moved in without warning in February, forcing them out, in what the government has termed the first phase of its clearance plan.

"The effects of February's forced eviction have been devastating for the Badia East community where dozens are still sleeping out in the open or under a nearby bridge exposed to rain, mosquitos and at risk of physical attack," said Oluwatosin Popoola, Amnesty International's Nigeria researcher.

The report calls on Lagos authorities to halt the forced evictions, aimed at bringing order to the chaotic and crowded metropolis which is home to 15 million people.

"It is estimated that close to 9 000 residents of Badia East lost their homes or livelihoods," said a statement on the report.

"If these plans proceed as described, tens of thousands will be at risk of forced eviction and face possible destitution."

Slums have sprung up throughout Lagos as residents pour into the sprawling city in search of work from across Africa's most populous nation.

The two groups used before-and-after satellite images showing concrete houses and other structures razed to the ground to dispute claims by an official that the area cleared was a rubbish dump.

A survey carried out by residents estimated that at least 266 buildings containing homes and businesses were completely destroyed, affecting an estimated 2 237 households.

Similar evictions have been carried in other places across Nigeria, with thousands of residents left homeless.

Lagos officials did not immediately return calls for comment.



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