An attempt by the Nigerian government to refurbish the capital city of major oil producing state may render over 200,000 people homeless, a statement released by Amnesty International has notified.
Amnesty International has demanded of the state government to immediately stop all evictions until making sure “they comply with international human rights standards.”
The Rivers State government plans to embark on a mass eviction of waterfront slums in the capital city of Port Harcourt, in order to build an amusement park and other attractions where informal settlements now stand.
And with more than 200,000 people standing to lose their homes and businesses, Amnesty International has revealed that local officials are indifferent by the predicament of slums residents.
The report quoted Rivers state Govenor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi as saying: “We need to just move them and they will have to find their own accommodation.”
Because the River State government has not provided fair notice to those living in the slums, as well as going back on promises to provide money to resettle them elsewhere in the city, Amnesty International is demanding a halt on all evictions until the River State government complies with international human rights standards.
The project to evict, demolish and redevelop the waterfront of Port Harcourt is meant to beautify the area where foreign oil firms exploring Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta are sited.
Most of the residents on the waterfront are poor tenants who get no compensation and have nowhere to go, many of whom now sleep outdoors under bridges and in the streets.
In 2009, the Rivers State government began plans to rebuild parts of the city, but forced evictions sparked demonstrations, and police fired live rounds at protesters; killing several civilians.
“Thousands of people, including children, women and the elderly were left homeless and vulnerable to other human rights violations. These evictions were carried out without prior and genuine consultation with residents and without the provision of adequate notice, compensation or alternative accommodation and legal remedies,” the Amnesty International report said.
Due to government indifference to the predicament of those affected by the demolition and redevelopment project, the issue of evacuation, demolition and redevelopment, remains highly contested in the capital city of Port Harcourt.