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Amnesty Urges Shelter for Thousands Whose Homes Were Razed

FILE - A woman paddles a canoe around a Lagos waterfront neighborhood on her daily trip to sell bean cakes to residents, July 24, 2012.

Amnesty International is calling on Nigerian authorities to provide accommodation for as many as 30,000 people who have been left homeless after their waterfront communities were destroyed despite a court injunction.

Amnesty said Friday that the people made homeless in Lagos State were driven out this week and their homes deliberately set alight, in direct contravention of a court order.

A fire started in the Otodo Gbame community Wednesday, and eyewitnesses said police who were present did not try to stop the fire. The witnesses said police chased them away when they attempted to put out the blaze.

It was unclear how the fire started.

Reports said that after the fire was extinguished, police and a demolition team returned with a bulldozer, at which time residents were forced out of their homes.

The community had been granted an injunction Monday ordering the Lagos State government not to demolish the community.

The governor of Lagos State announced October 9 that the waterfront communities surrounding Lagos State creeks and waterways would be demolished because of public health and safety concerns.

Governor Akinwunmi Ambode said the shantytowns were providing safe havens for suspected kidnappers and must be destroyed for the safety of local children.

Amnesty said despite the High Court injunction, more than 40 communities surrounding Lagos Lagoon face eviction.

In recent years, poor waterfront communities in Lagos have begun to be replaced by luxury apartments and commercial districts.