- Title: Nigeria must address housing crisis and end forced evictions - U.N. rapporteur
- Date: 30th September 2019
- Summary: COMPUTER SCREEN READING: ''BUY PROPERTIES AND GO TO SLEEP''
- Embargoed: 14th October 2019 13:37
- Keywords: forced evictions low-cost housing luxury housing estates the worlds's third largest nation effective housing policy
- Location: LAGOS AND ABUJA, NIGERIA
- City: LAGOS AND ABUJA, NIGERIA
- Country: Nigeria
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA002AYUNO7R
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Nigeria is gripped by a crisis that has left Africa's most populous country ill-equipped to properly house its inhabitants, said a United Nations rapporteur who also called for an end to the forced evictions of entire communities.
The United Nations estimates that Nigeria's population is set to double by 2050 to around 400 million people, which would make it the world's third-largest nation, behind India and China.
Against this backdrop, there was a lack of adequate housing in a country where most inhabitants live on less than $2 a day despite the nation having Africa's largest economy, said Leilani Farha, special rapporteur on adequate housing.
She also noted that the last census was conducted in 2006 and said there was a lack of official data for the government to develop an effective housing policy.
"There is a huge amount of corrupt money flowing directly into housing. Luxury housing units are being created and left vacant. Private cities are being built within cities while the bulk of the population remains unhoused,'' said Farha at the end of a 10-day visit that took in Abuja, the southwestern commercial hub of Lagos and southern oil city Port Harcourt.
In Nigeria, Lagos city has become a primary destination for rural to urban migrants in the country with millions of people lured annually into the state, for its perceived economic opportunities, and GDP growth.
With a growing population of over 21 million people, the need for property ownership drives the inflation on housing and accommodation in the metropolitan state.
Olawale Ayilara runs Landwey Investment, a real estate company operating across emerging property markets in Nigeria, developing commercial, retail and residential property segments.
Olawale says the way in which housing unit are constructed is part of the problem.
"It is a bit difficult for us to achieve a systematic accommodation for people. We are building horizontally instead of vertically and we should do that, we should maximize airspace because we cannot talk about airspace without maximizing the airspace," he said.
Northeast Nigeria has for the last decade been gripped by the insurgency waged by militant Islamist group Boko Haram that has forced around 2 million people to leave their homes. That, she said, had added to the housing crisis.
The rapporteur also criticized the use of force by state government authorities and property developers to evict entire communities.
The practice is often carried out in cities, most notably in the port city of Lagos, to make space for luxury housing which is unaffordable for the majority of locals.
Farha said hundreds of thousands of Nigerians, mostly women and children, had been evicted from their homes in the last few years by people using firearms, arson and arbitrary arrests.
"There must be a national moratorium on forced evictions declared by the Federal Government. Adequate legal and procedural safeguards need to be put in place to ensure that evictions do not take place and if they do take place, that they be absolutely consistent with international human rights law,'' she said.
Nigerian authorities have previously said shanty towns have been demolished because they were home to criminal gangs, making them a security threat as well breaching building regulations.
And the state government in Lagos, which attracts thousands of people each day in search of work from across Nigeria and neighboring countries, has repeatedly denied reports of brutality and possible violations of human rights laws.
The UN rapporteur said a national commission should be established to investigate alleged human rights violations and it should have the power to provide compensation.
(Angela Ukomadu, Seun Sanni, Abraham Achirga, Nneka Chile)
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