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Land and Property Rights have a Complex History in Lagos

Recurrent episodes of marginal communities being evicted from the waterfronts of Lagos have made global media headlines over the last four years. Up until 2016, the city had earned a hard-won status as a model of good urban governance for Africa. Along with better transport systems, waste management and security, the Lagos state government had re-established control over planning and taxation after years of neglect. This led to a more satisfied public as well as higher revenues for the public purse. But this reputation was replaced as the government seemingly began to prioritise its real estate frontiers over the lives of tens of thousands of vulnerable people. Violent waterfront land grabs and demolitions followed. These have been carried out by a mix of state authorities and central government agents, who have used tactics of both force and law. The devastation of these communities, while particularly shocking, is part of a much wider phenomenon of insecure property rights which affects many, if not most Lagosians, from the poorest to the middle classes and wealthy elites.