Amnesty International: 75% of Lagosians live in slums -Our aim is to build 1008 flats at Badia —Fashola

THE Amnesty International  has stated that despite the Lagos State government’s lofty dreams of making the state a mega city, about 75 per cent of Lagosians live in slums.

Speaking at a press conference, on Monday, on the heels of the demolition of Ijora Badia East, Mr Oluwatosin Popoola, Amnesty International’s Nigeria researcher, stated that the state government’s failure to respect the rights of the residents of Badia had resulted in hardship for the people who still remained largely homeless and jobless despite pleas from them for compensation from the state government.
He stated that forced evictions of Nigerians in Lagos had cost around 9,000 people their homes or livelihoods.  He added that tens of thousands more could be at risk if the government proceeded with plans to redevelop the slum area of Badia East.
According to a report jointly issued with the Social and Economic Rights Action Centre (SERAC) and the Amnesty International, the Lagos State government must act consistently with Nigeria’s obligations under the international law.
“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,” the report stated.
The report called on Lagos authorities to halt the forced evictions aimed at bringing order to the chaotic and crowded metropolis which is home to about 15 million people.
“The Lagos State government has violated the right to adequate housing of the residents of Badia East by failing to put in place any of the legal safeguards required under the international law, prior to evicting thousands of the residents.
“The demolition has devastating consequences on the lives of the evictees. This is one eviction too many, all in the name of development. The Nigerian government has failed the people of Badia by resettling them in the area from Oluwole, where they were in 1973. Oluwole area is now home to the National Theatre and the Federal Government resettled them in Badia without proper documentation,” the report said.
SERAC’s Coordinator, Mr Felix Morka, pointed out that the residents of Badia must be provided with effective remedies and reparation for the violations suffered.
“In the case of Badia, we have seen old women, pregnant women and litle children forcefully left to the mercy of the elements all in the name of development. Most of the human rights standards were ignored,” he added.
He called on the National Assembly to adopt a resolution concerning all forced evictions in Nigeria and also pass into law, without delay, a bill explicitly prohibiting forced evictions.
The Lagos state governor, Babatunde Fasola, in a counter response to allegations made by Amnesty International has refuted claims that his administration is displacing some residents by pulling down their buildings.
A report by the Amnesty International stated that an estimated 9,000 residents of Badia East lost their homes or livelihoods. However senior officials in the Lagos state government had claimed that the area was a rubbish dump.
According to Oluwatosin Popoola who is Amnesty International’s Nigeria researcher, “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, mosquitoes and at risk of physical attack.”
However, Governor Fashola countered Amnesty’s allegation that the government’s plan is to solve problems and ensure better living for residents.  “That is why I have committed to build 1,008 flats in Badia, to take people out of living on the refuse heap.”
He added that his government has decided to pay attention to the community which had hitherto been ignored. “That place has been there since I was a child and we have carried on as if nothing happened.”
“The easiest thing to do is to take a bull-dozer and bulldoze a slum because governments don’t create slums, it is people who do.”
He added that his administration’s plan is to “bulldoze away your difficult conditions” by providing roads, drainages and primary health care centres.
Speaking with the Nigerian Tribune, one of the evicted, Mrs Bimbo Osobe, described the situation as very harrowing and demoralising.
“I am 55 years old and I am homeless. What happened that day was shocking because there was no notice. They came with sledge hammers and all the law enforcement agents were armed. We stayed by the rail lines. They did not give us a chance to take any of our belongings.
“We had a house with tenants and their children living in there. I had shops, but they were all rendered useless. We are calling on the Lagos State government to come to our aid,” she said.

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