Otodo-Gbame: Nigeria court rules eviction unconstitutional

image copyrightAFP
image captionUp to 300,000 residents of waterside slums in Lagos could be forced out

A Nigerian court has ruled that the forcible eviction of tens of thousands of people from a waterfront slum in Lagos is unconstitutional.

The judge said the rights of those evicted, such as the residents of Otodo-Gbame, had been violated as there was no resettlement plan in place.

The state government had argued that the clearance was necessary as the slum posed an "environmental risk".

It is yet to respond but it has ignored such verdicts in the past.

Otodo-Gbame - one of the many informal fishing settlements in Africa's most populous city - has been emptied in waves of clearances since November last year.

In March, the homes of about 5,000 people were razed to the ground, with reports of people being chased into the water on boats.

The high court judge ordered the government cease evictions and pay compensation.

Part of a wider picture: By Stephanie Hegarty, BBC News, Lagos

Crowds cheered outside a packed courtroom where many of the evicted residents had gathered for the ruling.

The judge ruled in their favour, saying that the eviction of their community violated their rights because there was no resettlement plan in place.

Lagos State previously denied that they demolished the slum and said it was destroyed by a fire, after which they cleared the remains because it was unsanitary and posed a fire risk. But it seems that account didn't hold sway in court.

The clearing of Otodo-Gbame is seen as part of a state-wide policy to clear up to 300,000 people from informal waterside settlements.

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