22 January 2020
JOINT PRESS STATEMENT: NIGERIAN NAVY ACTING ON ORDERS “FROM ABOVE” FORCIBLY EVICTS THOUSANDS FROM OKUN AYO & TARKWA BAY COMMUNITIES IN BRAZEN DISREGARD FOR CONSTITUTIONAL GUARANTEES & DUE PROCESS OF LAW
The Nigerian Slum / Informal Settlement Federation (Federation) and Justice & Empowerment Initiatives – Nigeria (JEI) condemn the demolition and forced eviction of Okun Ayo and Tarkwa Bay communities beginning on 21 January 2020 by the Nigerian Navy, acting on “orders from above”, carried out in brazen disregard for due process of law and other fundamental rights guaranteed to residents by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and other human rights laws.
Around 9am on Tuesday, 21 January 2020, residents of Okun Ayo and Tarkwa Bay communities – two peaceful beachside communities that are home to an estimated at least 4,500 fishermen, artisans, artists, and business people engaged in local tourism, among others – were shocked when the military personnel from the Nigerian Navy rushed through the community, shooting guns and ordering everyone to pack out within one hour. Several persons reported violence and that at least one resident was shot in the leg. Meanwhile, excavators reportedly began working in Okun Ayo community bringing down buildings, with military stationed to stop any entrance to that area.
Over the following hours and up through nightfall, thousands of residents packed what belongings they could salvage and struggled to find boats to leave the community, which is accessible only by water. All along the beaches and alongside Tarkwa Bay jetty, residents were seen with their belongings stacked high. Hundreds of boats filled with men, women and children waited in the harbor to know where they could move to take refuge. At CMS jetty on Lagos Island, hundreds of families sat with piles of their belongings, no idea where to go next. Many families ended up sleeping under bridges and in open spaces nearby as night fell and they still had no solution.
The demolition of Okun Ayo and the forced evacuation of Tarkwa Bay bring the number of communities forcibly evicted by the Nigerian Government through the Nigerian Navy since Christmas Eve 2019 – less than a month ago – to at least two dozen. The other peaceful island communities include Abagbo, Abule Elepa, Abule Glass, Ajakoji, Akaraba, Bobukoji, Ebute Oko, Fashola, Idi Mango, Ilaje, Inangbe / Ilado, Kopiamy, Ogunfemi, Oko-Kate, Okun Alfa, Okun Babakati, Okun Gbogba, Okun Ilase, Okun Kobena, Sankin, Sapo Okun, and Tokunbo, among others. Still other member communities of the Nigerian Slum/Informal Settlement Federation on the islands nearby are living under fear of imminent eviction should these actions continue.
We are dismayed by the purported justification given for these forced evictions based on security operations, knowing that no law in Nigeria allows for the demolition of peoples’ homes nor other forms of collective punishment without any due process of law. Rather, the Nigerian Constitution guarantees the presumption of innocence. Anyone suspected of a crime must be arrested, prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced before appropriate punishment can be imposed on that individual. Collective punishment and punishment of third parties is unconstitutional and illegal.
Meanwhile, forced evictions – the removal of people from the land or homes they occupy without sufficient legal or other protections – is a gross violation of international human rights law binding on Nigeria. The Nigerian Constitution and human rights law domesticated in Nigeria guarantee the rights to adequate shelter/housing, livelihood, due process of law, and dignity, among others. Indeed, a 2017 Lagos High Court judgment found that forced evictions without adequate notice and resettlement violate the right to dignity enshrined in Section 34 of the Constitution.
Forced evictions are not only illegal and unconstitutional, they are counter-productive to security and to the development objectives Lagos and Nigeria as a whole. Forced evictions cause mass homelessness, loss of livelihood, separation of families, interruption of education, physical and mental health consequences and death. Displaced communities and families are pushed into worsened poverty, which can only undermine security, as well as urban and national development.
For years, the Federation and JEI have worked closely with urban poor communities like Tarkwa Bay, Okun Ayo, and other communities living under the current threat of eviction to implement community-led development and advocate for partnership with government to follow international best practices around community policing and community-led in situ upgrading that can produce win-win outcomes to improve quality of life, collective security and societal development.
We call on the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Nigerian Navy to immediately halt the ongoing eviction campaign of island communities across Lagos, to dialogue with communities to find alternatives to eviction, while compensating and resettling evictees for their losses.
Megan S. Chapman, Mohammed Zanna, Akinrolabu Samuel, Bimbo Oshobe
Justice & Empowerment Initiatives, Nigerian Slum/Informal Settlement Federation
+234 (0) 818 719 6021, +234 (0) 704 639 6371, +234 (0) 803 921 4391
For pictures and videos of the 21 January 2020 forced eviction of Tarkwa Bay and Okun Ayo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/justempower/sets/72157712780902478/
Please note: some pictures and videos are also included here; more will be added to the Flickr album throughout the day. Please credit as per the image labels
About us: The Nigerian Slum/Informal Settlement is a movement of the urban poor for dignity and development with membership from across over 144 communities in Lagos, 60 in Port Harcourt, and growing in other cities across Nigeria. Justice & Empowerment Initiatives (JEI) is a human rights and development organization that works hand-in-hand with grassroots social movements like the Federation to advance the rights of the urban poor and other marginalized populations.
Port Harcourt Federation volunteers launch a new savings group in Diobu waterfront
Despite being one of the younger affiliates in the SDI network, the Nigerian SDI Alliance – comprised of the Nigeria Slum / Informal Settlement Federation and support NGO Justice & Empowerment Initiatives – is doing impressive work building a solid foundation of networked savings schemes, using community-collected data to negotiate eviction alternatives and improved living conditions for their communities, forming active partnerships with government and other urban decision makers, and building capacity and momentum in local youth to catalyse greater change. Below are some highlights from the affiliate on their activities over the last year.
During the period the Federation’s savings groups and membership continued to grow through outreach to new communities and strengthening savings groups in existing Federation communities. In Lagos this was primarily supported by the LGA Coordinator system set up by the Federation in 2017 where 2 strong Federation mobilizers have volunteered to take the lead in supporting other savings groups in their LGA. The LGA Coordinators convene meetings with representatives of the savings groups within their LGA, and also provide support to new groups or reenergize ‘inactive’ groups within their LGA.
The LGA Coordinators also generally serve as point persons for all Federation activities within their LGA (e.g. profiling or enumeration efforts). LGA coordinators effectively serve as ‘second tier’ leadership within the Federation even though there is no formal overall leadership structure.
Additionally, in order to emphasize the importance of savings as a core ritual, the Federation instituted a policy that all Federation volunteers would be required to submit copies of their savings passbooks on a monthly basis to show that they are active savers – this cuts across all aspects of Federation work, including that of the media and the profiling/data teams. This has helped to ensure that all Federation work continues to be anchored by community level savings groups as the fundamental building block of the Federation.
General Manager of Lagos Urban Renewal Agency and his staff in Orisunmibare community for a planning meeting with the Orisunmibare Upgrading Committee
Know Your City
To support community planning and partnerships outlined below, we have developed a number of maps, charts, and graphs that present the Federation’s profiling and enumeration data towards specific purposes. When a community completes profiling – a simple map of the community is produced and given back to the community for their own records and use. In Port Harcourt, towards building a collaboration with the Ministry of Works around improving community drainages, we have also developed drainage maps.
In both Lagos and Port Harcourt the Federation has been working to put their data to work – primarily in the context of engaging with government. In Lagos, our engagement with Lagos Urban Renewal Agency (LASURA) towards upgrading Orisunmibare community (and potentially 2 others) is largely informed by the enumeration process carried out in the community together with several LASURA staff. In Port Harcourt, the Federation is working with both the Water Corporation and the Ministry of Works towards community upgrading efforts – improving access to water on one hand, and improving drainages on the other hand. The interest of the Water Corporation and the Ministry of Works to work with the Federation was, in both cases, piqued by the data that the Federation had already collected.
The Federation has collaborated with the Department of Geography at University of Lagos and LASURA towards localizing and measuring indicators for Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11 – particularly around access to services and climate change resilience and adaptation. The Federation and JEI developed a household survey module that can be added on to our standard enumeration form to capture data about SDG 11.
Another collaboration that the Federation developed was with the Landlord and Tenant Association of Apapa LGA, tackling access to electricity (overbilling and estimated billing). This partnership evolved from a single paralegal case assisting Federation members wrongfully arrested and detained at the instigation of the electricity distribution company to try to silence their advocacy for better access to services, to an LGA-wide house numbering effort facilitated by the Federation towards negotiating better terms of service with the electricity distribution company. Because of the federation’s efforts, the member of the Lagos State House of Representatives for Apapa LGA and the Police Area Commander have participated in meetings to try to resolve the simmering dispute – and have largely supported the Federation’s position against extortionate billing. This negotiation process is still ongoing, however, it has afforded the Federation a lot of productive learning about mass mobilizing and using data to push for improved access to services, while drawing (political) allies to the cause.
Samuel Akinrolabu with the head of the Landlords and Tenants Association planning for mass house numbering across all of Apapa LGA to generate data to use in negotiations with the electricity distribution company
In Lagos, our partnership with Lagos State Urban Renewal Agency has continued to develop primarily through the process of working towards an inclusive in-situ upgrading process in Orisunmibare community. This process – the first of its kind in Lagos – has included community-level data collection through a participatory enumeration together with LASURA, establishment of a community upgrading committee, and dozens of planning meetings to date. As a result of these efforts, LASURA was able to obtain a budget from the State Government for 2018 to specifically support their engagement in the planning process in Orisunmibare.
Separately, the Lagos Federation has been engaged in an Affordable Housing Working Group set up in 2017 to think through mechanisms and designs for affordable housing in Lagos. The working group includes members from the Lagos State Ministry of Housing as well as a group of urban planning, architecture, and housing professionals. During the period numerous meetings were convened and a proposal for a government-backed housing trust fund that is truly accessible to the urban poor is being developed.
Engaging the Youth
KYC.TV media team in Port Harcourt on a shoot focused on access to health services in Federation communities
During the reporting period the youth Federation’s Know Your City TV team grew and matured by leaps and bounds – transforming from a group of young Federation members interested in making media, to a much more organized, focused, and talented team taking their own initiative to launch new projects. This transition was anchored by a regular series of trainings, exchanges, and other engagements that served to hone skills, build excitement, deepen engagement of the KYC.TV team with the larger Federation, and sharpen our collective focus on making media for change.
The other major area of youth engagement was in further training and growing the KYC profiling and data teams in Lagos and Port Harcourt – which led a number of intensive efforts to enumerate several settlements towards planning upgrading, house number communities towards engagement with electricity distribution companies, and refine data capture processes — both for KYC and for the Nigerian Federation Savings Database.
As of 2017, the Nigerian Slum/Informal Settlement Federation has organized 162 groups in 2 cities. As with most federations in the SDI network, combating evictions is the federation’s key mobilizing force. In the past 5 years, waterfront evictions have escalated owing to land grabs associated with an inflow of finance for luxury coastal development projects. The federation has used a combination of organizing strategies to try to stop the brutal evictions – evictions characterized by the overnight bulldozing of settlements housing tens of thousands, police setting fire to peoples’ homes and belongings, and the firing of live and rubber bullets to drive communities off the land. Federation profiling data on 40 waterfront communities with an estimated combined population of over 300,000 has been essential to informing the #SaveTheWaterfronts campaign to end forced evictions and ensure eviction alternatives are prioritized.
Despite a highly hostile environment, the federation has continued to work to build relationships with government. In the past year, progress has been made with the Lagos State Ministry of Health and the Lagos State Urban Renewal Agency (LASURA) with whom the federation has signed MOUs and is undertaking pilot projects to demonstrate eviction alternatives and city development that is in line with New Urban Agenda commitments. Peer-to-peer exchanges with other SDI federations and their government partners have been an important contributors to shifting perceptions in some government circles. Collaboration with other civil society actors has also been critical for raising awareness among the Nigerian public that – aside from contravening national and international law – the demolitions of peoples’ homes and livelihoods is neither a strategy for eliminating slums nor a strategy for building secure and prosperous cities.
Much is at stake in these efforts to demonstrate eviction alternatives and show there is another way. Since the absence of services in informal settlements is often used to justify removals, an effective first step in navigating the land tenure continuum can be the extension of these services to informal communities and the setting in motion of processes to upgrade in situ. It is an uphill struggle to say the least. In a city such as Lagos, with some of the most expensive land and housing markets on the continent, the forces against the federation are fierce. Poverty and deepening inequality are acute threats to the resilience of Lagos.
The Nigeria slum dweller federation efforts contribute to improved city resilience by reducing acute human vulnerability resulting from forced eviction, mobilizing cohesive communities, and organizing them to act as engaged citizens. These efforts are geared toward driving proactive multi-stakeholder engagements and building mechanisms for community engagement with government in pursuit of inclusive safety, security, and wellbeing in the megacity.
This post is part of a series of case studies from our 2017 Annual Report titled ‘The Road to Resilience.’ Emerging from the field of ecology, ‘resilience’ describes the capacity of a system to maintain or recover from disruption or disturbance. Cities are also complex systems and a resilience framework addresses the inter- connectedness of formal and informal city futures. Moreover, it enables a nuanced reflection on the nature of shocks and chronic stressors – recognising that the latter are particularly acute in slum dweller communities and that this critically undermines the entire city’s economic, social, political, and environmental resilience.As with personal resilience, city resilience demands awareness, acknowledgment of reality, and a capacity to move beyond reactivity to responses that are proactive, thoughtful, and beneficial to the whole. The most enlightened individuals and cities will be those that understand their responsibility to the most vulnerable and to the planet. Our 2017 Annual Report showcases some of SDI’s achievements over the past year on the road to resilience. Click here for the full report.
By Megan S. Chapman, Co-Founder and Co-Director, Justice & Empowerment Initiatives – Nigeria
The footage you see at the beginning of the promo clip for “The Legend of the Vagabond Queen of Lagos” showing thousands of people in wooden fishing boats on the Lagos Lagoon watching their homes being burned by the government was taken almost a year ago to the day by my husband. He was with the evictees while tear gas and live bullets were being shot in their general direction to keep them from returning to land.
The man in the second clip whose head was lolling back was Daniel Aya, a young man and Federation member who was hit by one of those bullets in the neck and whose community members were trying to pole him to another boat that could try to take him to get urgent treatment across the Lagoon. I met that boat when it landed 45 minutes later carrying his dead body. A few minutes later, another boat arrived with a young man shot in the chest whose life we were able to save.
The Otodo Gbame community including 30,000 people was violently and forcibly evicted so their land could be turned into a luxury real estate development. It was destroyed violently and ruthlessly despite peaceful protests by thousands of Federation members from the Lagos waterfronts. Despite a court injunction restraining the government from carrying out the eviction of Otodo Gbame and 39 other communities who remain at risk of eviction up to today despite a court judgement in their favour.
This project is born out of the need for alternative ways to get the message out and change these lived realities of the urban poor in Lagos, in Nigeria, and around the globe. There is urgency in the struggle. It is personal to me and to hundreds of thousands of Lagos urban poor who are leading the struggle for dramatic change.
We believe deeply in co-creative processes. These are the key to alternatives we are pushing for the government to take to pursue win-win solutions with the poor instead of violent land grab. But co-creation is messy, is labour intensive and takes time to be done well and be truly co-creative and pluralistic. I both recognize the “essentialness” of this approach and struggle to be patient for the end-product (or mid-stream) tools that will advance the struggle — and hopefully transform it into something that will change the conversation and lived realities of the people with whom my daily life is intertwined.
By James Tayler, SDI
Legends of Lagos is an online documentary series in production by SDI’s youth media programme, Know Your City TV, which seeks to reveal the invisible legends that hold the waterfront communities of Lagos together by collecting stories of resilience and hope from informal settlements.
The documentary series serves another function as research material for a fictional narrative feature film to be produced by KYC.TV titled “The Legend of the Vagabond Queen of Lagos.”
The inspiration for this story comes from news reports that have surfaced in Nigeria about million dollar caches of paper money, hidden away by corrupt politicians and officials, that have been discovered in graves and other unlikely places. We wondered: “What if a grass roots community activist happened to discover one of these million dollar hoards and, instead of using the cash to enrich herself, set out to transform her community?”
Why are these stories necessary?
Lagos is undergoing a face-lift; plans are in action to turn this congested mega-city into Africa’s Singapore. But the slum dwellers living in the waterfront townships create a major problem for city officials: they are now an inconvenient eyesore that does not fit into this grandiose vision.
The Lagos State Government’s response has been brutal, swift and unjust – tens of thousands of people have been displaced and made homeless overnight in illegal evictions. Thugs and police in the employ of wealthy landowners forcibly drive people from their homes and possessions. Communities that have existed for decades – or over 100 years as in the case of Otodo Gbame – are barely given warning before the bulldozers and hoodlums armed with machetes and gasoline move in to hurt and burn. People have been killed, families ripped apart, and lives upended but hardly anyone in Nigeria or the international community knows about it. When the evictions are covered in the news, the stories are often met with a fatalistic shrug.
These stories, told and produced by slum dweller youth, are going to help change that. We will show that these communities are sites of resilience, innovation and practical solutions to very real problems. With this feature film and documentary series we want to show that true progress and innovation means that every citizen, no mater how poor, has something to contribute.
There is an emergency – lives and livelihoods are at risk. We need to swing public opinion, mobilize communities and forge new partnerships with other global citizens.
Please watch this space – we will take you on a journey through the waterways and alleys of Lagos slums where you will hear whispers of the Legend of the Vagabond Queen of Lagos. A fabled kingdom where corruption and self-serving leadership is not welcome, a place of resilience and innovation built on water and hope.
By Megan Chapman and Andrew Maki
The year 2017 witnessed two very different approaches to urban informal settlements in one city—Lagos, Nigeria. The largest city in Africa, Lagos epitomize the tension between tremendous economic potential and the overwhelming urban planning challenges posed by massive growth and rapid urbanization.
Within the space of a few months, one agency of the Lagos State Government carried out a massive forced eviction of over 30,000 residents of the Otodo Gbame community, an ancestral fishing settlement on the shores of the Lagos Lagoon. The eviction destroyed many hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of property, rendered tens of thousands homeless, and resulted in at least 11 deaths from drowning and gunshots. Evicted residents were literally chased off valuable urban real estate in the upscale Lekki area of Lagos and into wooden fishing boats in the lagoon. They fled by the thousands to no fewer than 16 other informal settlements on the waterfront, where most are still homeless and living in deep poverty. The seized land is meanwhile being rapidly developed into yet another luxury real estate venture, which will likely sit half vacant while the city’s enormous affordable housing deficit grows wider and informal settlements multiply to fill the gap.
During the same year, another agency of the Lagos State Government was—for the first time in the city’s history—opening up dialogue with residents of dozens of informal urban settlements organized under the auspices of the Nigerian Slum/Informal Settlement Federation, with a view toward partnership in gathering community-led data and planning toward holistic in situ community upgrading. A peer-to-peer exchange for Nigerian slum community and government representatives to Nairobi, hosted by their Kenyan slum federation and government counterparts, provided an opportunity to see viable eviction alternatives forged by communitygovernment partnership. As a result, the Lagos State Urban Renewal Agency (LASURA) and the SDI-affiliated slum dweller federation started the process of building the mutual understanding and trust that are essential to reversing a history of violent evictions and demonstrating alternatives for inclusively transforming the city.
These starkly different strategies for urban development and the choices they represent reveal the potential for Lagos to be a city of large-scale tragedy or large-scale opportunity.
The Cost of Eviction
The human and development costs of evictions are enormous. For evicted households, the results include homelessness; loss of livelihood; negative health consequences, even death; separation of family and loss of social support systems; interruption of education; and overall worsened living conditions.
These consequences are not limited to the immediate term but have lasting effects on urban poor households. Research conducted among victims of the February 2013 forced eviction in Badia East—another Lagos informal settlement—showed that 2.5 years after the forced evictions, over a third were still homeless, and over 80 percent were living in shelters worse than the homes they inhabited prior to the demolition. More than half were separated from family, and a third of children had been unable to resume schooling. Virtually all described their incomes and access to work as worse or much worse.1 Similar findings are reported on the long-term impact of the forced evictions of the Njemanze and Abonnema Wharf communities in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
Nothing leaves people behind as evictions do. Forced evictions are a betrayal of the SDGs we signed up for. A large-scale eviction affecting tens of thousands of urban poor residents undermines progress toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on poverty, health, education, access to basic services, and sustainable urban development.
Government officials routinely try to justify large scale forced eviction on the grounds that such displacement will improve city security, sanitation, and the environment and will enable implementation of a master plan. But evicted communities do not disappear from the city; rather, the population forcibly displaced from one location simply moves to or creates a new informal settlement and does so with far fewer assets. Far from creating a more secure city, such mass displacement leaves affected populations desperate and erodes trust in government and law enforcement. In short, the city’s resilience is massively reduced.
Win-Win Alternatives: Learning from Other Federations
As the Nigeria federation and its partners seek and develop win-win eviction alternatives, they do so in solidarity with their peers from the SDI network. In cities across the globe, the experience of mass forced eviction and the manifold negative consequences of such evictions gave rise to these slum dweller movements. Organized communities have leveraged grassroots knowledge and the capacity to change urban policy and practice while developing strategies to protect and improve settlements. Over decades, in response to and in dialogue with these movements, city governments have found ways of working with the urban poor to craft win-win alternatives to eviction with improved outcomes for communities and the city as a whole.
Looking across countries, workable alternatives to eviction can be driven by innovations in policy, practice, and finance. Policy-driven alternatives are those that grow out of policy innovations that unlock investment in in situ slum upgrading. In some countries this has been achieved through innovations in land titling to enable the urban poor to secure tenure and, consequently, invest more in their housing and community infrastructure. Other policy innovations target the private sector, incentivizing investment in housing and infrastructure for the urban poor. For instance, in India, policymakers, in consultation with the SDI-affiliated slum dweller movement, designed a Transferred Development Rights (TDR) scheme by which developers could obtain the right to build high-end housing with augmented density in exchange for building free housing for the urban poor.
Innovations in practice involve partnership between governments and organized communities to directly upgrade or resettle informal settlements, at times with participation by global development partners. Examples include the large-scale railway resettlement programs in India and Kenya, in which SDI-affiliated slum dweller federations led enumerations of people living within railway line setbacks and then worked with the government to plan, organize, and implement resettlement programs. In India, strong partnership and highly organized communities enabled the resettlement of 60,000 in just one year. In Kenya, nearly 10,000 have already been resettled in situ and the program is ongoing. Housing units were constructed on the same land after clearing the 20 meters closest to the rail line through consolidation of households into three-story housing in the remaining 10 meters.
Even where third-party financing may not be available for rapid and large-scale resettlement, organized communities working in partnership with government may still plan for and implement community-led upgrading. An example is in Kambi Moto community in Nairobi, where the SDI-affiliated savings groups in the community negotiated a Memorandum of Understanding with the government. The government agreed to transfer land title to the community in exchange for a land readjustment and upgrading plan whereby residents used their savings and SDI-supported soft loans to build improved housing, going vertical to make more efficient use of the land and making available a plot for a government building. The layout and process are continuously being improved and have been replicated in other Nairobi slums.
Innovations in finance, as well as in policy and practice, are essential to unlock slum dwellers’ capacity to invest in the upgrading of their own communities. To this end, SDI-affiliated slum dweller movements across the world have been working with city governments to establish and grow Urban Poor Funds. Such funds pool capital from their members and third-party sources to finance investments in land, housing, and related projects. An example is the community-managed uTshani Fund, established in 1995 by the South African SDI affiliate with an initial USD 2.7 million pledge from the Minister of Housing. The uTshani Fund uses donated capital to pre-finance innovative community-based housing design and delivery through bridge loans, which revolve back into supporting new projects. To date, the fund has used its initial grant capital to secure land and build over 13,000 houses.
Trust and Partnership: A Foundation for New Solutions
In each of the successful examples of alternatives to eviction given above, a key to crafting workable innovations in policy, practice, and finance is strong partnership between organized communities and government. Against a history of evictions, it may take time to build trust and mutual understanding to enable such partnership, but the sustainable outcomes—upgrading slums and delivering affordable housing for the urban poor without recourse to evictions—are better for communities and for the city. This is the process that LASURA and the Lagos chapter of the Nigerian Slum/Informal Settlement Federation have embarked on, following in the footsteps of other SDI-affiliated movements and their government partners around the globe.
The Lagos chapter of the federation comprises hundreds of savings groups in over 80 settlements across the megacity; of these, the federation has identified three settlements with the strongest savings groups and highest level of contributions to the Nigerian Urban Poor Fund as priorities for upgrading in partnership with LASURA. During the initial phase, the federation has led household-level enumerations in two of the priority communities, with LASURA’s research department joining the fieldwork so that they can understand the process and help validate the data, which will be essential for planning. The federation has also convened a series of large town hall meetings in which community members engage directly with LASURA around upgrading priorities and data-based planning.
While building the foundation for partnership, dialogue is beginning on how best to drive eviction alternatives on a megacity scale: Should this start incrementally? Should it involve a development partner? Are policy changes needed to unlock investment? What is the role of private developers? How can communities remain in the driver’s seat if private developers are involved? What is the best way to overcome the legacy of evictions and avoid the pitfalls of the past?
One thing is for certain: as this partnership takes shape, it will not only make history in Lagos, but it has the potential to tap into the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of Nigerian slum dwellers to develop new approaches to eviction alternatives. It will simultaneously pose and answer the most pertinent question of all: What happens once an eviction has been prevented?
In February, SDI launched a landmark publication titled “Know Your City: Slum Dwellers Count,” showcasing the extraordinary contribution of the Know Your City (KYC) campaign to creating understanding and taking action to reduce urban poverty and exclusion. We are posting a new chapter from the book every week. Enjoy!
Download the full publication here: http://bit.ly/2seRc0x
This second half of 2016 witnessed the most intensive period of sustained popular action in the history of the Nigerian Federation. It started with the mass eviction threat to 17 waterfronts in Port Harcourt in July 2016. In response, the Federation turned out in their thousands in peaceful demonstrations. A delegation from Lagos, which blocked the main road in Port Harcourt, faced tear gas and a police barricade that nearly turned the crowd back, but finally it led to a meeting with the Rivers State Governor and a first-in-history reversal of an eviction threat.
In the lull between mass eviction threats, on 4 October 2016, the Federation led a peaceful protest where Federation members stood together with informal workers affected by the State Government’s crack-down since July 2016 on street traders and hawkers. For a month prior, Federation led outreach to street traders in the areas most affected by the crackdown and helped organize them to join with the broader movement of the urban poor. On 4 October 2016, the Federation led a protest calling for a pro-poor policy agenda – “Our Urban Agenda” – linking local demands to the H3 New Urban Agenda.
On 9 October 2016, the Lagos State Governor announced in the media that the State Government would start demolishing “all shanties on waterfronts” within 7 days. The Federation sprang into action, circulating fliers to all member waterfront communities on 10 October for them to send representatives to a meeting. On 11 October, over 20 communities gathered and wrote a collective letter to the Lagos State Governor calling for retraction of the notice and warning of mass protests if the notice was not retracted.
On 13 October 2016, the Federation staged the first #SaveTheWaterfronts protest with hundreds of waterfront residents in attendance. Those who met them promised to communicate to the Governor and get back to them within 36 hours. Instead, within 36 hours, a waterfront settlement called Ilubirin was demolished and there was no response to the Federation’s demands.
Consequently, the Federation embarked on another, much bigger, peaceful protest on 18 October. This time, the Federation met police barricades and broke through them to get to the Governor’s office; they ended up blocking the entrance of the Governor’s office and the House of Assembly as well as many of the roads leading to/from/around the Lagos State Secretariat, insisting to meet the Governor – but the Governor did not come out. In the end, the Speaker of the House addressed them and promised to set up a committee.
The next day, the Lagos State Government put our a public statement indicating that it would not change from its planned course of action to demolish the waterfronts, referring to the peaceful protests as “blackmail” to which the State Government would not succumb. In response, 15 Federation waterfront communities joined together and asked JEI (Nigeria support NGO) to represent them in a case in court to try to protect their fundamental rights and restrain the Government from demolishing their communities.
Following on the promise by the House of Assembly, the Federation organized members from waterfront communities in different constituencies across the state to write to their representatives. The Federation wrote to the Speaker of the House reminding him of his promise. Finally the House of Assembly did set up a committee as promised and contacted the Federation to visit one of the threatened waterfront communities; although the visit was aborted before it really began due to the House of Assembly members squeamishness about visiting the area selected, the House of Assembly did toward the end of October pass a resolution urging the State Government not to proceed with demolition of the waterfronts without considering the people.
On 7 November 2016, the case involving the waterfronts came up in court and – as with each subsequent hearing – the waterfront communities mobilized hundreds of Federation members to the court premises to pack the courtroom and fill the hall outside, showing their strength and shared resolve to seek justice. On 7 November, the judge issued an injunction restraining the State Government from carrying out any demolition of the waterfront communities.
Despite this order, the State Government on 9-10 November 2016 carried out a massive forced eviction of Otodo Gbame, displacing over 30,000 people according to the most recent profiling exercise completed. At least 11 people died in the process, drowned when people who could not swim were chased into the Lagoon to escape fires during the first phase of the demolition.
As early as 11 November 2017, Federation mobilized water and foodstuffs to help provide some relief to evictees in Otodo Gbame (more major relief efforts began subsequently). The media started to pour into the community and Federation supported to bring media to cover the plight of evictees. Federation also agreed with residents from Otodo Gbame to go on a mass peaceful protest to the Lagos State Government on 15 November. More than 600 evictees and other Federation members – including a delegation that travelled on an overnight bust from Port Harcourt to join in solidarity – went on protest and practically every major media house was present to cover the event. Again all access to the Governor’s Office and the State House of Assembly were blocked as the protesters demanded to see the Governor. Once again the Governor refused to come out to see the evictees.
In the ensuing weeks, Federation mobilized hundreds of evictees and other Federation members to court for three hearings; Federation documented a series of violent attacks on the community in which evictees were wounded and, subsequently, organized a smaller protest to the Zonal Police Command on 24 November 2016 to deliver a letter demanding police protection for evictees. Federation joined evictees in a series of hearings by another committee set up to look into the Otodo Gbame evictions and also supported the evictees through an investigation by a team of police from Abuja.
As the various advocacy efforts finally led to a period of peace, Federation helped support Otodo Gbame to start rebuilding their community – the greatest form of collective action possible under the circumstances. However, despite all the efforts the ongoing threats and eviction continue. The Nigeria affiliate with support from the SDI network continues to engage stakeholders at both the local and international levels to demonstrate alternatives to forced eviction.
This text is a direct excerpt from the Nigerian affiliate’s reporting to SDI.
UN Habitat’s Global Land Tools Network (GLTN) Urban Cluster Work Plan Project was conceptualized and developed by GLTN’s urban civil society partners at the Partners Meeting held at the Hague in November 2013. The project was facilitated by the secretariat of GLTN, and coordinated by Shack / Slum Dwellers International, serving as the urban CSO cluster lead organization.
The program was implemented by cluster partner organizations: Asian Coalition of Housing Rights, Habitat for Humanity International, Shack / Slum Dwellers International and Academic Cluster partner organization, African Association of Planning Schools. Broadly the project aimed to activate and engage these GLTN partner organizations in activities that will improve security of tenure for poor urban communities in Latin America, Asia and Africa.
The project was focused on promoting capacity development, awareness raising and alliance building within the Urban civil society cluster and among other clusters to contribute to the GLTN vision of a pro-poor, gender-responsive land interventions, with particular emphasis on increasing grassroots women’s land tenure security at country level.
The Urban Cluster Work Plan laid emphasis on collaboration and partnership between both GLTN partners in the urban cluster and across clusters. The intended outcomes of this were: joint advocacy positions on land tenure security within the global processes of developing post-MDG goals – the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as participation in Habitat III; and improved land tenure security for poor communities working with the GLTN partners.
The Asian component was led by SDI’s India affiliate organization, SPARC. In Africa regional activities were implemented by two partners: the African Association of Planning Schools, which is part of the Academic Institutions Cluster of GLTN; and SDI’s Nigeria affiliate Justice and Empowerment Initiatives (JEI).
This post will focus on the profiling and mapping activities undertaken by the Nigerian Slum Dwellers Federation and JEI Nigeria in Lagos, Nigeria – Africa’s largest city with a population of 23 million, two-thirds of which lives in slums.
Within the context of the SDI, Cities Alliance, and UCLG-A supported “Know Your City” Campaign, the Nigerian SDI affiliate supported citywide slum profiling and mapping through:
- Community-led profiling of slum settlements in Lagos;
- Data capture and return to communities;
- Customization of profiling/enumeration questionnaire to Nigerian realities and harmonizing of data collection and capture processes with STDM; and
- Creation of maps and other tools to visually represent city-wide profiling data to be made accessible to the public at a new Lagos profiling hub in the heart of Lagos Mainland.
Community-Led, Federation-supported Slum Profiling in Lagos
Between May and November 2015, the Nigerian Federation supported the profiling of 28 slums in Lagos. 15 of these settlement profiles were supported by the urban cluster work plan.
The data collected in a slum profile consists of a boundary map of the settlement, mapping of basic services (like water and sanitation), a tally of all structures, photography, and the collection social economic data through focus group discussions covering 300 data variables. (To learn more about SDI’s slum profiling work, visit knowyourcity.info). The profiling tool is inclusive of all questions contained in the STDM standardized community profiling questionnaire.
With the aim of carrying out city-wide profiling of all informal settlements in Lagos, JEI and the Nigerian Federation continued to train new Federation members interested in supporting community-led profiling, with a focus on youth members who have added capacity to learn how to use new technologies and energy to lead work in the field. The growing cadre of trained and experienced Federation volunteer profiling facilitators trained under the GLTN grant are going to be key to achieving city-wide profiling in the mega-city of Lagos in the coming years.
Building off of the informal settlement profiling completed thus far, JEI and the Federation have also worked to identify as many slum communities in Lagos as possible. This has happened in a variety of different ways, including: 1) identifying communities neighboring those that have already carried out profiling through in-person visits, 2) identifying communities clustered along the shore of Lagos Lagoon visible from afar when crossing the Lagoon on boat or via the Third Mainland Bridge, 3) brainstorming lists of communities that Federation members are aware of located in different Local Government Areas in the state, and 4) analyzing satellite imagery and other available data/reports to identify where informal settlements are located throughout the city. We are using this growing list of informal settlements as a bar against which we can measure our success in reaching new communities.
Data Capture and Return to Communities
The data capture process has been handed over to the federation teams, who enter all data into SDI’s global Know Your City data platform. To enable this process, both SDI and JEI undertook extensive training for community volunteers, who also had some computer skills. This has had the benefit of creating a feedback loop between the data collection and capture process and the communities. All profiled communities received a two-page community factsheet on the data collected, allowing for verification and subsequently for data updating.
For the communities profiled, this was the first time that they saw themselves ‘on the map’ and getting a more concrete sense of their population and other key statistics they can utilize. This has many practical benefits such as communities better recognizing their assets and their needs, as well as less concrete benefits such as greater communal action within communities.
With the concurrent support from SDI the Nigerian federation is able to leverage on the collected data. Currently JEI is working with communities to ‘put the data to work.’ For 7 Lagos informal settlements, one way this is happening is through a collaboration with Cornell University Department of Architecture which is working with the Federation’s profiling data and other community inputs to develop prototypes for simple, built solutions to some of the challenges that the Federation has identified as cross cutting, particularly as relate to water and sanitation.
This includes the Typology of Toilets and Water Points in Lagos Informal Settlements, and the Standard Building Methods for Structures Above Water in Lagos Informal Settlements. For other communities, the Nigeria federation is exploring a follow-on household-level mapping aiming to secure their land tenure through negotiations with a traditional land-owning family and subsequent formal land registration.
Customization of Profiling & Enumeration Questionnaire
At the outset updates were made to the standard SDI profiling questionnaire (with is inclusive of the STDM profiling template) to accommodate the Nigerian realty. Utilizing this questionnaire has resulted in overall cleaner and clearer data due to elimination of confusion among Federation profiling facilitators or communities. These are major achievements that enable profiling to move efficiently while responding to Federation communities’ needs and interests.
Following feedback from the Nigerian Federation, the service mapping form has been updated to add categories/sub-categories that are more responsive to local context. This service mapping data is a key resource in our collaboration with the Cornell University Department of Architecture.
With the aim of finding means of increasing the tenure security of Lagos’ informal settlements, JEI is now developing a new module to add onto the standard profiling questionnaire that will include more detailed, Nigeria-specific land tenure-related questions that the Federation will be piloting, beginning in February 2016. To develop the relevant questions we researched what similar tools already exist and where there are best practices that can be drawn on. This included conversations with other’s including a former USAID land tenure expert who worked in Nigeria, and a new start up NGO named Cadasta that is working to help make more flexible the land tenure tools that already freely available.
Simultaneously, JEI’s legal team has researched Nigerian land law and the available processes for formalizing land tenure. With the additional land tenure data collected with our new land tenure focused profiling module, during 2016 JEI and the Federation will work with communities in which the Federation is most active to develop tailored strategies towards greater tenure security.
Creation of Information & Knowledge
Since its launch in early June 2015, the Nigeria Slum / Informal Settlement Center has served as the main meeting point for the Nigerian Federation to engage with the data that they collected through the community profiling and mapping processes. JEI and the Nigerian Federation have convened dozens of meetings to review data collected, discuss how to reach more communities in order to achieve city-wide profiling in Lagos, and have also together begun building plans to put the data to use
In addition, the Center has served as a space for the convening of the urban poor and others, including other civil society organizations, journalists, development partners, and individuals interested in the Federation’s work. Through these interactions the Federation has shared – through words and visual representation – their data-driven priorities, opening a perspective on Lagos rarely seen by politicians and the upper classes.
The impact of this Center is felt far beyond Lagos as well, as it has and will continue to serve as the convening place for exchanges of new Federation chapters from elsewhere in Nigeria and West Africa, as well as a growing repository for information about communities that is for communities. As the Nigerian Federation continues to grow, the Center will continue to be its base, the point from which the Federation will launch new chapters across Africa’s most populous country in the coming years.
Check back here in the coming days part two of this post which focuses on SDI’s collaboration with the African Association of Planning Schools to undertake analysis of data, packaging and engagement with city authorities around the use of data in three cities in Kenya.
JOINT PRESS STATEMENT by FRIENDS OF BADIA EAST
28 September 2015 | Lagos, Nigeria
Friends of Badia East from across civil society have come together to strongly condemn the forced evictions that began in Badia East, Lagos State, Nigeria, on 18 September 2015. Once again, thousands have been rendered homeless at the peak of torrential rainfall, leaving scores of women and children to sleep under makeshift shelters at the demolition site. The heavy rains that fell throughout the Eid-el-Kabir (Sallah) holiday highlighted the misery of homelessness.
As evening fell on the Sallah holiday, two young women each holding young babies huddled under a tarpaulin shelter as the rain fell. One of them, Mrs. Olabisi Malomo bounced her crying baby on her knee as she recounted what happened, “I stay here, I make 25 years at this railway line. When they want demolish our house, they just come without information, say they want demolish. One night we just see caterpillar (bulldozer). Some people say they want do gutter. It no reach four hours when all them police and people who do demolition come. They say we should begin to pack our load. It no reach 30 minutes before they begin demolish everywhere.”
Since the demolition, Olabisi Malomo has been sleeping in a makeshift shelter with her six children, her elderly mother, her sister and neighbors and their children. Before the demolition, she worked as a petty trader, but all her goods were lost in the demolition. “I am sleeping outside with my six children. As rain is falling now, we are under the rain. The way they do us for this community, it’s not good. In this Nigeria, they treat we poor people like we’re goats. We aren’t goats; we are human beings. They should help us. We have suffered too much.”
Based on the lack of adequate notice, the failure to identify and consult with the persons to be affected, and the total disregard for persons who are left homeless without alternative as a result of the ongoing demolition, we consider the demolitions carried out to be a forced eviction and, as such, a grave violation of human rights law and statutory provisions in force in Nigeria. We note that, without the requisite protections in place, even an eviction carried out in accordance with a judicial decision can amount to a forced eviction, according to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and UN Habitat, among others.
The forced eviction started on 18-19 September and continued again on 22 September, moving from Badia East toward Badia West, displacing more than 10,000 people to date. Although technically a private demolition exercise by the traditional landowners, the Ojora Chieftaincy Family, the Nigerian Police Force and Lagos State Government have been providing material support throughout the exercise. Scores of policemen have been on ground every day, with a police officer seen riding on the bulldozer itself. On Tuesday, a well-known official with the Lagos State Physical Planning and Development Authority (LSPPDA), Mr. Tunde Olugbewesa, was on ground throughout the day with other officials, overseeing and directing the demolition.
In February 2013, over 9,000 people were forcibly evicted from the neighboring part of Badia East in a demolition carried out by the Lagos State Government to make way for a housing project built under the Home Ownership Mortgage Scheme (HOMS). That demolition violated the World Bank safeguard policies on involuntary resettlement, which the State Government committed to follow when it accepted $200 million to upgrade Badia and other slums in Lagos – financing intended to benefit the residents of Badia who have now been evicted.
There is serious concern that the Lagos State Government will use the land now being cleared to expand its HOMS housing scheme, in which the monthly mortgage payment for the least expensive housing unit is more than ten times the typical rent for comparable space in Badia.
On Monday, 21 September, Badia East evictees staged a peaceful protest outside the Lagos State Governor’s office, calling for Governor Ambode to intervene to stop the demolition. In response, the Lagos State Government issued a temporary stoppage order late on Tuesday.
While we applaud the stoppage of the demolition since Tuesday evening, we remain deeply concerned about the thousands of evictees who have suddenly been rendered homeless, as well as the 20,000 or more others in Badia East, Badia West, Apataaro, and other neighboring areas of Apapa LGA / Apapa-Iganmu LCDA who are still at risk should the demolitions resume.
The demolition has not only caused widespread homelessness, but also severe loss of livelihood for traders, landlords, and business owners alike. Mrs. Biola Idiefo Ogunyemi, a widow and mother of six, lost two residential buildings with a total of 38 rooms, three shops, and a bar that she had owned since 1991. The 14-room makeshift structure that she erected behind these buildings was also destroyed. “How will I care for myself and my children now?” she lamented.
A young mother of two, Abimbola Joshua, spoke as evening fell on the Sallah holiday from inside her makeshift tent, surrounded by children escaping the rain: “The way the King Ojora Fatai treats us is very bad, he treats us as slaves. I want Fatai Ojora to know that, anything he is doing on this earth, he should remember God. Because when we finish everything on this earth, we go to God. And God will judge everyone according to his or her behavior on earth.”
An elderly woman with only one good leg, using a single zinc sheet to cover her and a mother nursing a 1.5-month-old baby next to her from the rain, pleaded: “Make the Government help us beg Aromire Fatai to leave us alone. Make him forgive us. We have suffered too much.”
We join the victims in calling for the Ojora Chieftaincy Family and the Lagos State Government put a final halt to these demolitions. We implore urgent protective action for the victims by the Lagos State Government and the Federal Government, both of which have the legal responsibility of preventing forced evictions, protecting victims, and ensuring effective remedy.
At a United Nations summit just days ago, President Buhari publicly committed Nigeria to the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, which sets goals for eradication of poverty and rightsbased upgrading of slums. It is high time for such commitments to be felt in places like Badia.
To realize such legal obligations and political commitments, we urgently demand:
1. That the Federal Government of Nigerian and the Lagos State Government take all necessary steps to ensure there are no further forced evictions;
2. That people already forcibly evicted be returned to their rebuilt homes, or provided an adequate and satisfactory alternative, and compensated for all their losses; and
3. That persons rendered homeless, especially women, children and other vulnerable populations, be given immediate humanitarian assistance, including adequate temporary shelter while long-term solutions are in process.
SIGNED BY FRIENDS OF BADIA EAST:
- Justice & Empowerment Initiatives (JEI), www.justempower.org
- Spaces for Change (S4C), www.spacesforchange.org
- Nigerian Slum/Informal Settlement Federation, www.facebook.com/NigerianFederation.net
- Center for Advancement of Development Rights, (CEADER), www.ceader.org
- Centre for Defense of Human Rights & Democracy In Africa (CDHRDA), www.cdhrda.org
- CEE-HOPE Nigeria, ceehopeng.blogspot.com
- White Code Centre, whitecodecentre.org
- Media Concern Initiative for Women and Children
- Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN), www.noprin.org
- Global Rights Nigeria, www.globalrights.org
- Development Innovation Matters
- Rural & Urban Development Initiative (RUDI)
- Ore Disu
- Olamide Udo-Udoma
- Nseabasi Effiong Umoh
- ‘Toyin Elegbede-Gbadegesin
- Ifesowapo Youth Initiative
- Steve Aborisade
WATCH Badia East Evictees’ Sallah Message here: https://vimeo.com/140396337
SEE photographs of the demolition and aftermath here:
VISIT JEI Nigeria’s website for more information: www.justempower.org
CONTACT email@example.com or +234.818.719.6021 with any enquiries