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UN-HABITAT to probe Nigeria evictions


Experts led by UN-HABITAT recently concluded a fact-finding mission to Port Harcourt in Nigeria to probe conflicting reports about alleged evictions.


Demolished buildings and houses in Abonnema Wharf Waterfront to be cleared to make room for a theme park © UN-HABITAT

“A group of experts led by UN-HABITAT visited Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State in Nigeria, from 12 to 16 March 2009,” the agency said in a statement. “The objective of the mission was to establish the facts regarding conflicting reports on the demolition of housing and commercially-used structures in Port Harcourt by the Rivers State Government as part of an urban renewal programme.”

The reports from both Nigerian and international non governmental organisations alleged that many of the demolitions were carried out without following due process as established by the State’s own laws and international legislation. According to the Rivers State Government, the demolitions were following due legal process and adequate compensation was paid to structure owners who hold legitimate papers on their land.

Mandated to implement the Habitat Agenda, UN-HABITAT promotes sustainable urbanisation including pro-poor urban renewal initiatives but does not endorse unlawful forced evictions. This is emphasised by the commitment of the international community, including the Government of Nigeria, to the following objective:

“Protecting all people from and providing legal protection and redress for forced evictions that are contrary to the law, taking human rights into consideration; when evictions are unavoidable, ensuring, as appropriate, that alternative suitable solutions are provided.” (Habitat Agenda, paragraph 40n)


Building in Abonnema Wharf Waterfront marked for demolition© UN-HABITAT

In response to the Government’s invitation to verify the conflicting information received from different parties, and to assess the Government’s compliance with the Habitat Agenda, UN-HABITAT set up a multi-stakeholder fact-finding team led by agency staff members and supported by representatives from the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Public Works, Housing and Urban Development, and the Nigerian-based non governmental organisations Social and Economic Rights Action Centre (SERAC) and Women Environmental Programme (WEP).

The team held discussions with key stakeholders in Port Harcourt including government and civil society representatives, and visited the sites of recent and planned demolitions. The team is currently reviewing the documentation collected during the mission to verify the various reports and representations. The findings and recommendations of the mission will be submitted to the Executive Director of UN-HABITAT for her consideration.

For more information contact Housing.Policy@unhabitat.org