Lagos, Thousands forcefully evicted in Badia east
Day Two of Ongoing Demolition Looms
On Saturday, February 23, 2013, a demolition squad from the Lagos State Government began forcefully evicting thousands of residents of the Badia East community in Lagos. Over the course of the day, two bulldozers, dozens of uniformed Lagos State Physical Planning and Development Agency (LASPPDA) agents and countless others working with the Lagos State Environmental and Sanitation Task
Residents, caught unawares in the early morning hours, scrambled to remove zinc roofs and valuable possessions under the menacing watch of dozens of heavily armed members of the Nigerian Police Force. To “keep the peace,” the police arrested three unarmed young men early in the day and kept them for hours in a “Black Maria” vehicle on site. By the day’s close, the same police were chasing residents from their homes with batons and guns while the bulldozers pulled electric poles and cables down over their heads.
As night fell on the community, countless newly homeless residents lined the railroad tracks that pass through the community, abandoned to fend for themselves and protect their salvaged belongings through the night. Although the demolition squad refused to provide details, it is expected that the clearing of Badia East will continue on Sunday.
The Social and Economic Rights Action Center (SERAC) first suspected a threatened demolition on Wednesday, February 20, 2013, when the community reported that a team of Lagos State Government officials, including the Commissioner of Agriculture, senior officials of the Ministry of Housing and others, along with an armed police escort, visited Badia East. Rumors spread that the Lagos State Government was going to demolish, although no information or notices were provided to residents.
Since Wednesday, SERAC has been working with community leaders to try to learn the Lagos State Government’s intentions, including meeting with the Commissioner of Housing, calling the Commissioner of Agriculture, and sending letters to Governor Fashola and other ministries.
In a meeting on Friday, February 22, the Commissioner of Housing unequivocally denied knowledge of any planned demolition, even while he admitted that his Ministry has plans for a project to be undertaken in the community – once land is delivered unencumbered. By the close of the meeting, the Commissioner committed to raising SERAC’s concerns about the need for a more consultative planning process at an inter-ministerial meeting the following week. Flying in the face of all such denials and promises, the massive demolition and forced eviction commenced unannounced less than twenty hours later.
Badia East is an upwardly mobile informal settlement at the heart of Lagos, despite a long history shaped by forced evictions. The Federal Government of Nigeria acquired the land in 1929 to build a railway. In the early 1970s, residents displaced by the nearby National Theater construction were relocated to Badia East. Neglected by the Lagos State Government – aside from periodic demolitions – the community has since 2005 been engaged with the Federal Government in planning for possible in situ urban renewal.
The ongoing demolition and forced eviction of the Badia East community illustrates, sadly, that nothing has changed in Lagos since the days of military government. The Lagos State Government still has no shame in carrying out mass forced evictions in flagrant contravention of international law and the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Nigerian Constitution – so long as those affected are poor and their homes are “shanties.”
Ironically, Badia is one of the host communities for “slum upgrade” activities under the $200 million World Bank-funded Lagos Metropolitan Development and Governance Project (LMDGP). As in other host communities, the Lagos State Government has failed to abide by the specific terms of the World Bank policies that mandate it to minimize involuntary resettlement and, when displacement is absolutely unavoidable, ensure prior consultation, adequate notice, compensation, and resettlement to those displaced.
In March 2012, the Lagos State Kick against Indiscipline (KAI) Brigade set ablaze houses elsewhere in Badia East to clear way for LMDGP activities, for which the Project has just recently paid compensation. The present demolition is many times more massive.
Indeed, if it continues as it began, the entirety of Badia East will be wiped out in a few days and more than 150,000 residents will be left homeless and impoverished. Such flagrant violations of fundamental rights and international law cannot stand unchallenged.
For further information, please contact SERAC at email@example.com