Civil society secures ‘huge step forward’ for Nigeria’s urban poor


A nightmarish few months for residents of Otodo Gbame, a waterfront slum on the Lagos lagoon in Nigeria, took a turn for the better in a Lagos courtroom on Wednesday (June 21), Yomi Kazeem writes for Quartz:

In a landmark judgment, a Lagos High court judge ruled that the government’s eviction of Otodo Gbame residents and demolition of their homes over the past few months is unconstitutional as there were no plans for resettlement or compensation. The court also ordered the Lagos state government to consult with and resettle displaced residents and barred further evictions without adequate notice and resettlement. For its part, the state government had initially denied involvement in the demolitions, instead attributing it to a fire and then later defended its actions as a security measure in public interests.

The judgment is “a huge step forward for the protection of the urban poor,” said Andrew Maki, co-director of Justice and Empowerment Initiatives* (above), a legal campaign group that works with Otodo Gbame residents.

Nigeria’s radical Islamist group Boko Haram – ‘Africa’s ISIS’ – gained notoriety for the abduction of some 300 schoolgirls in 2014. In this week’s New York Times magazine, Sarah Topol tells the story of four boys, from a fishing village in Nigeria, who were among thousands abducted by Boko Haram and trained as soldiers.

“Boko Haram grew bolder, and their words more threatening. They began abducting and killing innocent people in other towns — Muslim clerics, traditional rulers, Christians and teachers, anyone who opposed their ideology,” writes Topol.

*A partner of the National Endowment for Democracy.

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