A United Nations human rights expert appealed to the Nigerian government on Thursday for an explanation of the recent eviction of 30,000 people in Otodo Gbame and other surrounding areas in Lagos State.
“It has been brought to my attention that the evictions may have involved the extreme use of force and fire by the Nigerian police force and Lagos State government, leaving individuals and families scrambling in the middle of the night to find safety and shelter,” said Leilani Farha, the UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing.
According to Ms. Farha, four people in the Otodo Gbame community were killed during the eviction process, adding that such news was “deeply disturbing.” SaharaReporters reported on Wednesday that witnesses saw police officers burn down homes of Otodo Gbame residents, most of whom were from the Egun ethnic group.
In response to these revelations, Ms. Farha contacted the Nigerian government and asked for information regarding the mass evictions, including the methods used to carry them out. She also questioned whether the evictees were given proper notice of their eviction or provided alternative housing in compliance with international human rights law.
“What makes these evictions particularly concerning is that they were carried out in blatant disregard of a court order and have completely ignored international human rights guidelines on forced evictions,” Ms. Farha stated.
“International law is clear: there must be consultation with the affected community, all alternative options to eviction must be explored, and a resettlement plan must be in place should the evictions be carried out,” she explained, adding, “Under no circumstances should force or fire be used.”
In the aftermath of the evictions, residents of the Otodo Gbame community staged a protest at the Lagos State Secretariat demanding justice.