Re: Imminent Forced Eviction of 1,488 Families in Lagos, Nigeria
The Social and Economic Rights Action Centre (SERAC) wishes to report that the Minister for Housing and Urban Development, Mrs. Mobolaji Osomo, has been fired from her job. Her dismissal was ordered by the President, Olusegun Obasanjo, as of yesterday, April 04, 2005, on account of the shoddy and corrupt handling by the Minister of the sale of federal government-owned properties in Lagos.
This timely event came in the wake of revelations that the Minister had secretly sold over 207 government properties to high ranking government ministers, legislators, judges, politicians and other powerful citizens, including the President’s wife, Mrs. Stella Obasanjo, in violation of due process requirements governing such transactions. The laundry list of beneficiaries of these property deals also included the Hon. Justice R.O. Olomojobi, a judge of the Federal High Court, who had earlier refused an application for an injunction brought by affected residents to stop the sale. In violation of rules of fair hearing, she had failed to disclose her conflicting interest in the matter and had not recused herself from adjudicating on the case as required by law.
You will recall that the Federal Ministry of Housing and Urban Development had issued eviction notices of barely 4 weeks to 1,488 families of civil servants resident in seven federal government-owned high-rise properties in Lagos to vacate their homes or face forcible ejection by March 31, 2005. The residents were neither given adequate notice nor provided viable alternative accommodation as required by legal and human rights standards.
Heightened public scrutiny and outrage over threatened evictions that was sparked largely by the SERAC-led anti-eviction campaign triggered a chain of events that culminated into the Minister’s dismissal from office. The residents, convinced of the illegality of the eviction order, unanimously and vehemently asserted their right to remain in their homes until justi