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United Nations asked Nigeria
yesterday for urgent information about a forced eviction of thousands of people
from makeshift homes in Lagos state, amid reports of brutality and possible
breaches of human rights laws.

Residents and a rights group said
30,000 people were forced from their bamboo homes illegally built in the city’s
Lekki neighborhood, a prime site for luxury apartments despite a court order
not to.

In August, the Lagos state
government gave residents who lacked building permits two weeks to move out of
Lekki and other upmarket districts and authorities have demolished several
shanty towns that it says are home to criminal gangs, making them a security
threat, as well breaching building regulations.

The U.N. special rapporteur on the
right to housing, Leilani Farha, said yesterday that four people were reported
to have died in the eviction and others had complained of “brutal treatment”.

“It has been brought to my
attention that the evictions may have involved the extreme use of force and
fire by the Nigerian police force and Lagos State government, leaving
individuals and families scrambling in the middle of the night to find safety
and shelter,” Farha said in a statement.

“What makes these evictions
particularly concerning is that they were carried out in blatant disregard of a
court order and have completely ignored international human rights guidelines
on forced evictions.”

There was no immediate comment from
the Federal Government or Lagos state, Reuters reported. Lagos police last week
denied they had destroyed homes and said they had arrested several people for
setting fire to them. “In an urgent communication, Ms. Farha has asked the
Nigerian government for information on the evictions, the methods used and
their compliance with international human rights law,” said the statement.

Last week Amnesty International
called on Nigeria to shelve plans to demolish more illegal settlements.  Slums of makeshift housing are common in the
poorest parts of Lagos, a city of 23 million people, which attracts thousands
of people each day in search of work from across Africa’s most populous nation
and neighboring countries.

Overcrowding in Lagos looks likely
to continue. U.N. estimates suggest that by 2050, Nigeria’s population, currently
180 million people will grow to 400 million, making it the world’s third most
populous nation after China and India.

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