Since 2000, the Nigerian government has forcibly evicted approximately two million people from their homes throughout the country. An estimated 800,000 people have been removed from their homes in Abuja alone since 2003.
Do these statistics shock you? Sadly, the story doesn’t end here.
In April 2005, approximately 3,000 people lost their homes after the government sent in bulldozers to demolish houses, churches and medical clinics in the Makoko neighborhood of Nigeria’s largest city, Lagos. Between May and July 2008 forced evictions took place on an almost weekly basis in Lagos, with some communities facing their third forced eviction.
Miriam Usman, 30, gave birth in Makoko in late April 2005, only days after the bulldozers razed the community. This is what she told Amnesty:
My baby boy is four days old. I delivered him here after my house had been demolished. Only my mother was here to help me, and the boy has not seen a doctor or nurse yet. My husband [has] run away after the bulldozers came in on Thursday. Now I spend the nights in the class rooms in the school with many other families. I have no money.
As recently as August 2009, the local government in Rivers State, in the troubled region of the Niger Delta, forcibly evicted thousands of people, to make space for a cinema complex! These people have received no adequate alternative housing, and thousands more remain at risk of similar forced eviction and destitution.
In 2006, Nigeria was named one of the three worst violators of housing rights in the world by the Geneva-based Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions. Thousands of people remain at risk of future forced evictions. The Nigeria government needs to know that we are watching and won’t stay quiet as these atrocities keep occurring.
By Juliette Rousselot, AIUSA Africa Program