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Purpose ‐ The notion of public participation in planning resettlements in the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja, Nigeria was not taken into consideration during the forced evictions that took place between 2003 and 2007. The aim of this paper is to explore the role of advocacy in a rights-based approach for consultation, participation and capacity-building for the victims of forced evictions in Abuja. Design/methodology/approach ‐ This is a case study approach that explores individual and group capacities in Abuja's informal settlements. Findings ‐ The demolition of informal settlements was carried out without due process, participatory approaches and group consultation in the plans for resettlement. Additionally, the office of the Federal Capital Development Authority put forth the argument that the proper implementation of the master plan justified and necessitated the systematic violation of the rights of hundreds of thousands of peoples; so that Abuja would not become a victim of urban sprawl which is evident in many other developing country city centres like Lagos, Cairo, or the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. Research limitations/implications ‐ The researcher has explored a widening gap between the agenda of a master plan for a developing country's capital city and the development of an informal economy within makeshift settlements. Originality/value ‐ This case study sheds more light on the human rights violations which have characterized the method of dealing with informal settlements in the new capital city of Abuja.