Report: Nigerian oil city evictions to affect 200k

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LAGOS, Nigeria (AP)—More than 200,000 people could lose their homes and livelihoods if an oil-rich Nigerian state proceeds with a mass eviction of its waterfront slums, a report released Thursday by Amnesty International warned.

Opposition
OPPOSITION—Wole Soyinka, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986, the first African honored with the award, is shown after launching a newly formed political party in Lagos, Nigeria, to challenge apathetic voters in the oil-rich nation to overcome a government he called cynical and brutal. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

The threatened evictions come as Rivers state looks to build an amusement park and other attractions where informal settlements now stand along the waters of oil city Port Harcourt. Already, a forced eviction carried out in 2009 left at least 12 people seriously wounded, Amnesty International said, with locals telling the organization they saw dead bodies carried away in the back of police pickup trucks.

“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. “Thousands of people, including children, women and the elderly were left homeless and vulnerable to other human rights violations.”

The evictions and demolitions are part of a master plan to redevelop the waterfront of Port Harcourt, long a hub for foreign oil firms exploring Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta. While foreign oil workers live in fortified compounds resembling Western suburbs, Nigerians living in the city have little electricity and access to clean drinking water.

The Amnesty International report accused the local government of not providing 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. The rights group called on the state government to immediately stop all evictions until making sure “they comply with international human rights standards.”

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