6th July, 2012
Amnesty International on Friday condemned the authorities in Nigeria’s oil-rich Rivers state for forcibly evicting thousands of people without warning.
The precise number of people affected by the evictions in Abonnema Wharf in the oil hub city of Port Harcourt was difficult to establish, but could be as high as 20,000, the London-based rights group said.
“Thousands of people have been left homeless and many are forced to sleep outside on the street, in cars or shelter in nearby churches,” Amnesty said in a statement co-signed by seven other organisations.
The demolitions were carried out between June 27 and July 2, with the Rivers state government saying they were required for “security reasons,” according to Amnesty.
Although residents of the Niger Delta waterfront community had been promised fair warning and financial compensation ahead of any demolition exercise, those commitments were not met, the statement said.
The evictions that were supervised by heavily armed security forces have left an entire community “destroyed, with only a few buildings remaining,” the statement said.
Abonnema Wharf is the second major community in the area to be destroyed since August 2009.
Rivers state officials have previously said the destruction of waterfront shanty settlements in Port Harcourt was necessary under a so-called “urban renewal” scheme.
Amnesty called on the government to “adopt a moratorium on all evictions and demolitions in the waterfront areas until adequate safeguards are put in place.”