SERAC undertakes advocacy actions regarding the forced eviction of the Maroko community in Nigeria
In 2008, the Maroko community, in conjunction with the Social and Economic Rights Action Center (SERAC), and African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACHRS) filed a case before the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights regarding the militarized, forced eviction of approximately 300,000 residents of the Maroko district of the Victoria Island, Lagos State, Nigeria.
The case brought against the Government of Nigeria is due to be heard by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Banjul, The Gambia, between 16-25 February 2016.
According to a news bulletin from the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS) in The Gambia, for members of the Maroko community unable to travel to the hearing, the New Media Advocacy Project and SERAC have produced a short 6 minute film including interviews with a number of those evicted back in 1990. The film documents their struggle over the last 25 years. It was created in October 2015 after the Complainants learned their case before the African Commission was to be heard.
According to SERAC, over the course of twelve days in July 1990, the Nigerian government destroyed the entire settlement of Maroko, including residential houses, religious institutions, schools, businesses, medical clinics, and community spaces. The demolition occurred at the peak of the rainy season, subjecting many evictees to exposure and the risk of disease. The demolition destroyed a vibrant community and local economy, as well as the family lives of the Maroko residents, and it disrupted the education of Maroko’s children. These violent evictions were carried out with no legal notice, consultation or process of law.
Reportedly, in the 18 years since the demolition, the evictees have never been provided with adequate resettlement, norhave they been given any assistance by the government to remedy or ameliorate the extreme state of poverty that the Lagos government inflicted on them.
These actions were taken in utter disregard of the fundamental human rights of the Maroko evictees under Chapter IV of the 1979 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the African Charter, as well as other international instruments to which Nigeria is a party, including their rights to life, housing, property, health, family and education.
Moreover, even after 18 years of effort by representatives of the evictees to secure a remedy for these violations of their rights, the government of Nigeria has failed to provide them with alternative housing or compensation for their lost property, and has done nothing to remedy the harm done to their families, health, education or human dignity. The evictees have faced almost two decades of delay in local courts and have still not had a single hearing on the merits of their case.
The events of the Maroko eviction have been examined by no less than five independent bodies, including three NGO’s and two governmental bodies. Their conclusions have consistently confirmed that the demolition of Maroko and the eviction of its residents constituted serious violations of the evictees’ human rights.
In its 2004 report on housing in West Africa the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (“COHRE”), concluded that the Maroko evictees “were forcefully evicted from their homes without proper notice or consultation, compensation, or provision of alternative accommodation.
Each of these five bodies has recommended that the evictees be properly compensated and provided adequate housing and other restitution. Just as consistently, however, the Nigerian government has ignored these conclusions and recommendations. The government and the courts have failed to provide the evictees with any adequate remedy for the violations of their rights. Instead, the government of Nigeria has proceeded to engage in further violations of its human rights obligations with respect to the Maroko evictees.
To know more about the case, please visit http://www.serac.org/litigation/regional-international-cases