Celebrations erupted at the Lagos State High Court on Wednesday after Justice Surajudeen Onigbanjo ordered the state government to stop further demolition of Otodo Gbame, a waterfront community in the state.
Onigbanjo ruled that it was wrong for the residents to have been forcibly evicted without plans for their relocation.
He described the actions of the state government as unconstitutional, but urged both parties reach an agreement on how to resettle the residents before their homes would be demolished.
The presiding judge agreed that “the land occupied by the applicants is under the control and the management of the executive governor of the state” but he also pointed out that the residents “never claimed ownership of the land, but have over the years settled on the land”.
“It will be wrong for them to be forcefully evicted from a land they have been [on] for several years,” Onigbanjo said.
“The respondents’ failure to provide alternative settlement before embarking on the forceful eviction of the applicants is unconstitutional.
“Both parties are hereby ordered to carry out proper consultation on how to resolve the relocation of the applicants.
“The respondents are hereby restrained from further carrying out evictions of the applicants from the settlements, if alternative settlements are not made available.”
According to a report by Amnesty International, an international human rights organisation, more than 30,000 people were rendered homeless by the Lagos State government in Otodo gbame, Ilubirin and Ebute Ikate waterfront communities in November 2016.
And only last week, another demolition exercise was carried out at Badia East, another slum community in the state.
More than 500 persons, mainly women and children, were reportedly displaced in the exercise, and a policeman was reported to have injured a woman with a knife when she tried to retrieve some of her belongings from her apartment that was being destroyed.