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Lagos Development Boom Sparks Fear That Slum Dwellers Will Be Left Homeless

Since the razing of the Otodo Gbame slum, many of the homeless have demonstrated outside the state governor’s office.

Despite their pleas, and opposition from rights groups, the state has adopted a hard line stance towards slum dwellers.

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Lagos governor Akinwunmi Ambode announced in October that all shanty towns around the city’s creeks and waterways were to be demolished, identifying them as hideouts for criminals.

Yet the demolition of Otodo Gbame follows years of development in the area by investors who have built apartments and shopping centers, pushing out fishing communities, said local legal campaign group Justice and Empowerment Initiatives.

ALSO READ: The Poor Suffer Consequences of Lagos Modernization

While the authorities and residents point the blame at each other over the clearing of the slum, it was destroyed just days after slum communities, including Otodo Gbame, secured a High Court order to stop the state pushing ahead with evictions.

Lagos state government said the razing was a result of clashes between the Egun and Yorubas, the major ethnic groups in the community, while police denied destroying homes and said they had arrested several people for setting fire to them.

“What happened … is a gross violation of human rights,” Megan Chapman, lawyer and director of Lagos-based Just Empower, a civil society group that works with marginalized communities.

READ  Ambode Targets 20,000 Housing Units in Three Years

The U.N. special rapporteur on the right to housing said last month that she had asked the Nigerian government for information on the evictions, the methods used and their compliance with international human rights.

Yet in the razed Otodo Gbame slum, a world away from legal and political disputes, people like Roseline Alphonse cannot afford to wait in the hope of securing aid or justice.

“We don’t know whether we will return home to Badagry (a nearby coastal town) or go somewhere else if the state government keeps chasing us away. We have nowhere to go.”

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Source: Reuters

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