Residents of informal settlements worldwide face challenges defending their land tenure. In contexts with overlapping systems of governance these challenges are even more complex and claims to land tenure more precarious. How do heterogeneous systems of governance, a characteristic of some global South megacities, affect evictions? This article presents an in-depth case study of the informal Otodo Gbame waterfront settlement’s struggle to defend its customary land tenure through multiple authorities in Lagos, Nigeria. The analysis reveals how a heterogeneous system of governance disempowers citizens by obscuring the locus of power and creating confusion when communities make claims on the state. Communities find themselves claiming rights to the city that receive varying degrees of recognition from the many authorities within the heterogeneous system. In Lagos, the state weaponizes this heterogeneous system in pursuit of modern development and urban growth.