UN report condemns increase in vacant luxury dwellings in Nigeria

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Despite the over 22 million housing deficit in Nigeria, the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Special Procedures on Monday, condemned the increase of luxury housing in cities, through the forced eviction of poor communities.

The UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Ms Leilani Farha, made the disclosure while presenting her preliminary findings on adequate housing at the end of a 10-day long fact-finding visit to journalists in Abuja.

She noted that these city houses still do not fulfil any housing needs as a majority of them remain vacant.

While advocating the introduction of vacant home taxes, she lamented the inhumane living conditions in Nigeria’s informal settlements, which according to her, houses 69 per cent of the urban population.

“Most residents in Nigeria’s ballooning informal settlements live without access to even the most basic services, like running water and they lack any security of tenure forcing them to live in constant fear of being evicted.

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“Economic inequality in Nigeria has reached extreme levels and is playing itself out clearly in the housing sector. There is an estimated housing shortage of 22million units. At the same time, newly built luxury dwellings are springing up throughout cities-made possible often through the forced eviction of poor communities. These units do not fulfil any housing need with many remaining vacant, as vehicles for money laundering or investment,” she said.

However, she urged the government to address the grossly inadequate housing conditions with the urgenct befitting human rights crisis of this scale.

Also, she recommended the establishment of a national commission to investigate gross human rights violations in the context of forced evictions and also provide basic services to all informal settlements.

She further urged the government to revise the Land Use Act, prioritize participatory in-situ upgrading of informal settlements and adopt a right based National Housing strategy.

“The right to housing must be recognised in national law as a fundamental right that can be claimed. Remedies must be available for any violations,” she added.

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