IF YOU LOVE YOUR LIFE, MOVE OUT! NIGERIA: Forced Eviction in Badia East, Lagos State

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August 12, 2013

IF YOU LOVE YOUR LIFE, MOVE OUT! NIGERIA: Forced Eviction in Badia East, Lagos State

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At 7.30 am on Saturday, 23 February 2013, residents of the Badia East community in Lagos state saw a bulldozer parked at the edge of their community. Soon afterwards, officials of the Lagos state Task Force on Environmental and Special Offences (Task Force) arrived and began demolishing people’s homes, businesses and community facilities.

People living near the bridge reported that they heard Task Force and other officials shouting for them to come out of their homes. Police officers said to them, "if you love your life, move out." Residents who tried to get in to their houses to salvage their possessions were threatened and some recounted that they were beaten by the police when they tried to do so. The bulldozers tore apart people’s homes and businesses, assisted by men in overalls who used sledgehammers to destroy parts of homes that the bulldozers could not easily reach.

By the end of the demolition, the Oke Ilu-Eri community, which forms part of Badia East, was razed to the ground and a part of the nearby Ajeromi community was also destroyed. At least 266 structures that served as homes and businesses were completely wiped out, affecting an estimated 2,237 households. Ataminimum, close to 9,000 people were affected. No alternative housing was provided by the Lagos state government and people were left homeless after the demolitions.

Many people are still sleeping out in the open or under a nearby bridge. Others have erected makeshift shelters with tarpaulin and similar materials wherever they could find space in Badia East. Several former Oke Ilu-Eri residents have constructed new structures made of wood and metal in a swampy area (previously deemed uninhabitable) on the other side of the World Bank-funded canal that borders the community. Some former residents are living with friends or familiesin homes that are already overcrowded. Without any government support following the loss of their homes and livelihoods, the overwhelming majority are unable to rent or obtain alternative housing.

Many people said that they are living in an extremely precarious situation after losing their sources of income. Numerous women who had lost their small businesses were worried that they have now become dependent on friends and family for food and clothing. Some said that they are suffering from malaria or typhoid after living in the open but can no longer afford to pay for medicines and treatment. The strain of becoming homeless and of sleeping out in the open is also believed by the community to have contributed to some deaths of elderly people. Many children are now separated from their families after being sent to relatives in villages because they have no home.