Thousands of Nigerian slum dwellers left homeless after mass eviction


Residents described scenes of panic and confusion Tuesday as tons of of navy personnel pushed into Tarkwa Bay and neighboring island communities on the Lagos Lagoon, ordering them to depart inside an hour.

Navy Cmdr. Thomas Otuji, a spokesman for the operation launched in December, mentioned the deliberate demolition of buildings goals to deal with oil theft alongside pipelines that run by the coastal metropolis.

Mohammed Zanna, a resident and paralegal, instructed CNN that the forces shot sporadically within the air as residents, who mentioned they’d no prior discover, scrambled to search out their households and pack their belongings.

“Everybody was panicking and packing every part they may carry. The boys had been taking pictures within the air and shouting that individuals ought to depart,” Zanna instructed CNN.

A boy looks on as Tarkwa Bay residents pack their belongings on boats on Tuesday. Photo: Omoregie Osakpolor

Many residents queued on the harbor until dusk, making an attempt to safe boats to move their households from the island to the town, mentioned Megan Chapman, co-director of the Justice & Empowerment Initiatives, a nonprofit that assists poor communities. She visited neighborhoods whereas the evictions had been ongoing, Chapman mentioned.

“We noticed dozens of boats crammed with belongings and households making an attempt to see how they had been going to depart the island. Most of them didn’t know,” Chapman mentioned.

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A consortium of advocacy teams, together with JEI and the Nigeria Slum/Casual Settlement Federation, put the variety of displaced individuals within the 1000’s.

The navy’s Otuji mentioned he didn’t have a precise determine of these impacted by the eviction, however residents in affected communities had been instructed to depart earlier than the train started.

Residents had been nonetheless packing their belongings out of the waterfront settlement on Wednesday, in line with Zanna.

Tarkwa Bay, dwelling to at the very least 4,500 folks, is amongst dozens of communities with constructions which have been marked for demolition by the navy. All are accessible solely by water.

In some communities, bulldozers have already performed their work.

Residents trying to secure a boat ride at the Lagos Island jetty on Tuesday. Photo: JEI

Otuji mentioned residents had been suggested to depart in December after authorities discovered that almost all of properties on the islands had been constructed alongside pipelines. In addition they found that some constructions within the slum had been getting used as a disguise for crude oil theft operations, he mentioned.

“We discovered at the very least 300 unlawful spots and dug out pits the place oil merchandise had been being tapped and offered illegally, even to neighboring nations,” Otuji mentioned.

“They’ve been there doing all types of illegalities. That is harmful for folks to be residing in these areas with oil pipelines. What else can we do however to ensure that we salvage the state of affairs?” he mentioned.

A pit used to siphon oil from pipelines in Kamaru community in Lagos, according to the Nigerian navy.

Chapman mentioned authorities ought to have focused these concerned, as an alternative of evicting harmless households in the neighborhood, principally inhabited by fishermen and artisans.

“The regulation doesn’t permit for collective punishment and abstract demolition as a safety measure. If there are people concerned in these actions, what the regulation requires is for the people to be arrested and prosecuted for any crime they could have dedicated,” Chapman instructed CNN.

Individuals residing in waterfront communities in Lagos, a metropolis of 21 million folks, have been forcefully evicted lately by authorities citing security considerations.
In 2016, greater than 30,000 households had been despatched packing from Otodo Gbame, a fishing neighborhood, after state safety brokers allegedly destroyed their properties.

Lots of them are nonetheless homeless regardless of a court docket ruling that the Lagos state authorities ought to resettle these affected by the demolition.

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