Break the silence, stop the forced evictions and restore the right to housing in Nigeria!
International Alliance of Inhabitants, 25 March 2009
We, inhabitants’ associations, international networks, voluntary groups, NGOs, public agencies, citizens of the world, express our indignation at and denounce the massive forced evictions of more than one million of people carried out from June 2008 and still in progress in Port Harcourt by the Government of Rivers State (Nigeria).
These evictions, carried out in brazen violations of national and international laws, are the consequence of the demolitions, mainly due to the implementation of the “city beautification” and to the “Silverbird Showtime” project, a private entertainment business.
In addition, the Nigeria Government is carryng out other massive evictions to implement the FCT Master Plan in Abuja and the privatisation of public housing real estate.
Therefore, we condemn these violations and appeal to:
The Government of Nigeria and the Government of Rivers State:
* to immediately stop all the demolitions and evictions in Port Harcourt and everywhere
* to cease forthwith any act or policy/legal measure that violates the full and progressive realisation of the right to adequate housing established by local and international laws or that jeopardises Nigeria’s attainment of Goal 7 Target 11 of the Millennium Development Goals or that goes against the Habitat Agenda commitment;
* to provide immediate compensation and adequate alternative accommodation to all the inhabitants, including tenants, affected by the demolitions who have lost their accommodation and/or personal belongs in the process, and who have become homeless and/or jobless as a result thereof;
* to institute an independent commission of inquiry to investigate the extent of the State Government’s involvement in the Silverbird project and the link between the project and the forced acquisition of peoples’ property in Port Harcourt, especially the forceful purchase of the entire Abonnema Wharf and Njemanze waterfront communities and their environs; and to undertake an assessment of the overall scope and extent of the ongoing demolitions and evictions in Port Harcourt and identify the underling factors behind the exercise.
The International Community (G8, States creditors, IMF, WB, and other financial institutions)
* to block all investments in Nigeria if they violate international norms on rights, particularly if they implement projects that promote the large-scale evictions and displacements of families from their homes and communities without any procedural protection, as those concerning the Silverbird project in Port Harcourt and the FCT Master Plan and the privatisation of public housing real estate.
* to permit the cancellation of foreign debt only if the freed resources are allocated to the development of housing and urban policies for the poor, in particular toward ‘People’s Funds for Land and Housing’ controlled by all the interested parties, including the inhabitants associations and organised civil society, with clear mechanisms to guarantee transparency.
The United Nations, the African Union and the European Union to take immediate action:
* to publicly condemn the evictions
* to provide a forum where the Government of Nigeria and of the Rivers State and all the interested parts, including the recognised representatives of inhabitants’ associations, international networks, NGOs and public agencies, can agree with the interested communities on alternatives to the evictions and on the relocation of people already evicted.
* to ensure respect for international norms protecting the right to housing by sending an urgent independent mission of the Advisory Group on Forced Evictions (AGFE) to help and act as mediators
First signatories of the Zero Evictions Campaing Nigeria:
National Union of Tenants of Nigeria
International Alliance of Inhabitants
Aye Aye Win, Dignity International
Ted Anana, Urban Poor Associates – Philippines
Habitat International Coalition (HIC)
Environnement Développement Action (ENDA)
Catherine Peyge, Mayor Bobigny, France
Osman El Kheir, Arc.Peace – Sudan
Esther Alvarez, CENCA – Peru
Tiffany Gardner, NESRI – United States
Vincenzo Simoni, Unione Inquilini – Italy
Clement Karine, Institute “Collective Action” – Russian Federation
Cristina Reynals, FEDEVI – Argentina
Fernando Ojeda, Red de Habitat – Argentina
Abu Rayhan Al-Beeroonee, Shelter for the Poor – Bangladesh
Marilina Marichal, CAES – Paraguay
Lucia Maria Moraes, Relatora Nacional do Direito Humano à Moradia Adequada e Terra Urbana – Brazil
Nelson Saule Junior, conselheiro do Conselho Nacional das Cidades – Brasil
Juan José Diez De Medina, Asociaciòn Boliviana de Cultura – Derechos Fundamentales ABC-DF – Bolivia
Annie Pourre, Ozel Derya, No Vox Network – France/Bangladesh
Jean-BaptisteEyraud , Droit Au Logement – France
Eddy van Sevenant, Amnesty International – Belgium
Yves Cabannes, Chair of Development Planning Development Planning Unit, University College – UK