Refugees in their Homeland

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On the orders of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) and the Nigerian Army, a demolition squad comprising heavily-armed soldiers and mobile police officers invaded Gosa 1 village, located along the Airport Road, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, and demolished homes, businesses, churches, mosques, schools, farmlands, crops, shrines and important cultural relics belonging to indigenous Gbagyi farmers and low-income residents. The Thursday, April 26, 2012 demolitions – carried out without prior notice, payment of compensation or provision of alternate shelter – left thousands homeless, including children, the youth, women and the aged  people who had lived on the land from time immemorial. 

The military officials claimed that the Federal Government has earmarked the demolished areas for the construction of a military barracks, and hence, they mounted a signpost after the violent demolitions, warning indigenes to keep off from the land. Ten days after the demolitions, scores of families continue to live near the ruins of their demolished homes because “they have no where else to go”, and cannot afford the soaring rental costs in the city.

The soldiers used extreme force in carrying out the demolitions.  Some local youth who attempted to protest or resist the demolitions were teargassed, arrested and detained. They were only released after the intervention of the village head, Chief Micah Waliki and the Local Government Chairman, Honourable H. Micah.

As Mama Hauwa Abdulahi, 78, said in Hausa language, (who was seen sleeping in the open with two of her grand-children), “I was born and raised in this community. I feel so much pained that i am now a refugee in my homeland”.
Homeless children cluster in Gosa 1 village, along Airport Road, Abuja
Properties of displaced families litter every corner in the community

Onyeka Ani, and her brother and sister have no where else to go. They continue to live in the open, near the debris of their former home 10 days after the demolition.
Onyeka’s sister sleeps in the open
Like Onyeka Ani’s family, Hussain’s family: 2 wives and his aged mother also live in the open. They have no where else to go
A demolished home
This Primary School is the only structure left standing in the demolished portion of the community
Homeless families seek refuge in the Primary School at night. Defecating in and around the school premises is quite common, increasing the vulnerability of the ‘refugees” to health hazards.
Demolished buildings
Community wears a forlorn look following  the demolitions
The traditional ruler and his cabinet lament the demolitions
Right on the demolished site, the Nigerian Army mounted this sign post warning residents to “keep off”.

SPACES FOR CHANGE strongly condemns this violent demolition of a poor indigenous settlement by Nigeria’s security forces. We urge the Nigerian President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, the National Human Rights Commission to investigate the circumstances of the demolitions and accompanying gross violations of human rights perpetrated  by armed security security forces. We demand the authorities to take immediate steps to provide relief in the form of alternative housing and/or fair compensation to all indigenes and residents evicted from the Gosa 1 community.

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