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Posts tagged ‘Lagos state government’

Lagos Magistrate Court Grants Injunction Against Police Land Take Over Of Atiporome Community.


Some of the protesting land owners at the Lagos secreatriat
By SaharaReporters, New York

A magistrate court judge in Badagry has granted an injunction against a police invasion, and demolition of over a thousand houses at Atiporome community in Badagry.

The magistrate, Judge Adesanya (Mrs.) ruled on Wednesday that the police invasion and demolition of the houses was in contempt of court, as a suit was pending regarding the  ownership and tussle on the land.

Magistrate Adesanya in her ruling also lambasted the police over its arbitrary demolition of more than 1,500 houses in the Atiporome community. She wrote the action by the police left residents there homeless.

Just a few weeks before their removal, Atiporome community residents had stormed the offices of the Lagos State Government in Ikeja. They aired their complaints and demanded government intervention on their behalf. But not much came with the airing of their plight before government officials. The Lagos State Government was also busy, ironically, at the time, wrestling with residents of the Okun-Idasho community, in Ibeju-Lekki, in a strikingly similar legal battle, to take over their land for its Lagos Free Trade Zone project.

In recent weeks before the new injunction, police had demolished well over a thousand houses in the community, claiming ownership to the land.

The magistrate ordered the police authority to be immediately served with the court order to avoid further excesses, as she ruled on the application for injunction. This latest legal step was filed collectively by members of the Atiporome community.

The matter was adjourned set for a March 20th hearing.

 

FOI: Request For Information On Ejigbo-Idimu Road.


By Olanrewaju Suraju

Dear Sir : Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC) is a coalition of over hundred and fifty Anti Corruption organizations whose primary aim is to constructively combat corruption vigorously and to ensure the effective monitoring of the various Anti-graft agencies in its activities in the fight against corruption and to enthrone transparency, accountability, probity, and total commitment in the fight to eradicate corruption in Nigeria.

The Ejigbo-Idimu road in Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos State, in a current decrepit status, has degenerated gradually over the years due to lack of maintenance. The road has dilapidated to the extent that the commercial buses, including the few motorists who used to ply the road, have had to abandon it for alternative access roads.

The road is filled with gullies and puddles, reducing means of transportation on the road to ‘okada’ (motocycle) and ‘keke Maruwa’ (tricycles) and even, the okada  and Maruwa riders have to glide through the puddles carefully, lest machine and its passengers end up in the dirty water. (It should be noted that the Lagos State Government has banned tricycles and motorcycles on Major roads; and Ejigbo-Idimu road is a major highway).

On April, 2013, during the Annual Ministerial Briefing marking the second year of second term of Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola, the Ejigbo-Idimu road was stated to be amongst ongoing projects. In June 2013, the inhabitants of the Local Government still complained on several occasions through various newspapers including the Punch Newspapers (June 22, 2013) and ThisDay Newspapers (June 9, 2013) that the road is still unusable and that, though work has indeed commenced in the last 2 years, not much has been done, only construction of drainages and demolition of houses were done till date.

CSNAC is hereby requesting, in accordance with the Section 2, 3, 4 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011, for the following information on the contract of the reconstruction of the Idimu-Ejigbo road:

1.       Total cost of the contact for the construction of that road.

2.      Name of the contractor awarded the contract

3.      Deadline for completion of the project, as contained in the contract.

4.      Relevant documents in support of responses to these requests.

We look forward to receiving these documents promptly and, in any event, within 7 days of the receipt of this application, as provided for in the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.

Sincerely

Olanrewaju Suraju
Chairman
To: Dr. Kadiri Obafemi Hamzat
Honourable Commissioner
Lagos State Ministry of Works and Infrastructure
Lagos State Secretariat
Alausa, Ikeja.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Okonjo-Iweala Denies Issuing Coscharis Import Waiver For Oduah’s N255m Armored Cars-PREMIUM TIMES.


 

Nigeria‘s Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
By Bassey Udo

The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on Thursday distanced herself and her office from the raging controversy concerning the two armoured BMW cars recently imported into the country for the Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah.

While the Chairman of Coscharis Motors Limited, Cosmas Maduka, told the House of Representatives committee on Aviation probing the N255 million purchase that the Federal Ministry of Finance granted his company waiver for the importation, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala dismissed such claims as “totally false and without foundation.”

The minister first issued through her twitter handle, saying the customs waiver she approved had no link to either the aviation ministry or bullet proof cars, but for the importation of 300 cars ordered by the Lagos State government for the National Sports Festival (“EKO 2012”).
She then followed up with a formal statement for clarification.

“On June 23, 2012, the Lagos State Government applied for Waiver of Destination Inspection Charges and Duty Exemptions for Coscharis Motors Nigeria Ltd, the official Automobile Partner for the National Sports Festival (“EKO 2012”), to purchase 300 vehicles on its behalf for the event,” the Special Adviser to the Minister on Media, Paul Nwabuikwu, said in a statement.

“Since the Lagos State Government met the laid down criteria, the waiver was granted. It is also important to clarify that the waiver granted to the Lagos State Government for the event did not include the purchase of armoured vehicles.”

At the public hearing by the House of Representatives on Wednesday, the Deputy Comptroller General of Customs, Manasa Jatau, had also accused Coscharis Motors of lying, by deceiving both the Ministry of Finance and National Security Adviser, NSA, into believing that the two armoured cars were among the ones acquired for Lagos state government for the National Sports festival.

Mr. Jatau, who alleged that the N10.1 million import duty due to Customs for the two cars were not paid, said Coscharis had used the same waiver for the Lagos State cars on the controversial BMW’s associated with NCAA.
“Coscharis imported the cars without paying import duties claiming there was a waiver from the Ministry of Finance. Coscharis obtained the waiver claiming the armoured cars were part of 300 vehicles imported for the Sports festival in Lagos last year, and therefore the beneficiary was Lagos State government. The cars had an End User Certificate from the NSA office in the name of Coscharis,” Mr. Jatau told the committee.

The NSA office had apparently issued End User certificate without knowing that it was doing so for cars to be delivered to Stella Oduah or the NCAA.

Reliable sources close to the office of the NSA, however, told PREMIUM TIMES last week that no such authorization certificate was ever issued to either the Minister of Aviation, Ms Oduah or the NCAA, to procure the controversial vehicles.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Anambra deportees sue LASG for N1bn.


Ade-Ipaye

THE 76 destitute persons, who were deported by the Lagos State Government and dumped on the Upper Iweka Bridge, Onitsha, Anambra State on July 24, 2013, have dragged the Lagos State Government to a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.

The suit was filed by seven of the deportees: Nnenna Ogbonna, Joseph Aniebonam, Osondu Mbuto, Osondu Agwu, Emily Okoroariri, Friday Ndukwe and Onyeka Ugwu as the applicants, on behalf of the 76 others, while the Attorney-General of Lagos State and the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State are the respondents.

In the motion filed by their lawyer, Ugo Ugwunnadi, the applicants asked the court to declare that they, as Nigerian citizens were entitled to the enjoyment of their fundamental rights as provided for in Sections 34, 35, 36, 37, 40, 41 and 42 of the 1999 constitution, as amended.

The applicants are also seeking a perpetual injunction restraining the respondents, their agents, workers and officers from their further deportation or refusing them free entry into Lagos and free exit there from, as well as an order mandating the respondents to tender a written apology to them by publishing the apology

in three national newspapers continuously for 30 days, from the date of the first publication, for unlawful and gross violation of their constitutional rights.

The deportees are also seeking a declaration of the court that their arrest and detention in various camps within Lagos state for no offence known to law and without trial and conviction by a court of competent jurisdiction, amounted to a serious breach of their rights as provided for in the relevant sections of the constitution.

The suit was brought as a motion on notice pursuant to Order 11, Rule 1&2 of the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure Rules), 2009, Sections 34 (1) (A), 35, 40, 45 (1), 42 (1), 46 (1) and 6 (1) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended; Articles 5, 6 and 12 of African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.

They also sought an order of the court to declare that their deportation from Lagos State to Anambra State on July 24, amounted to a gross violation of their rights and a breach of the provisions of the 1999 constitution, as amended, adding that the court should mandate the first respondent to re-absorb and accommodate the applicants within Lagos State since they were Nigerian citizens and were entitled to reside in any part of the country including Lagos State.

Also, the applicants noted that the issue for determination is whether the action of the respondents in arresting, detaining and their subsequent deportation from Lagos to Onitsha, Anambra state was justified in law, in view of the supreme provisions of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria.

The hearing, which will be presided over by Justice Anumogobia, is set to begin on January 29, 2014.

Source: Radio Biafra.

Lawyer, NCP sue Lagos over ‘deported’ Anambra 69.


Deportees from Lagos to Onitsha

The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos is expected to commence hearing in a fundamental human rights suit filed against the Lagos State government by an Onitshabased lawyer, Anthony Orunkoya, and the National Conscience Party (NCP) over the deportation of 69 Anambra State indigenes.

The plaintiffs, Orunkoya and the Anambra State branch of NCP are praying for a declaration that the arrest, confinement and/or detention and subsequent deportation and/or dumping at Onitsha, of the 69 persons of Anambra State origin or any Nigerian whatsoever by the Government of Lagos State on the grounds that such persons are destitute in need of rehabilitation and re-union with members of their families or any reason whatsoever not provided for in the constitution is an infringement, a breach and gross violation of their constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights.

They are also seeking an order of court restraining the Government of Lagos State either by itself or through any of its agencies, servants or privies, from

arresting, confining, detaining and/or deporting any Nigerian not of Lagos State origin to any state in Nigeria whatsoever on any ground whatsoever not provided for in the 1999 Constitution.

The plaintiffs are also asking the court to declare that the liberty of the deportees were infringed upon by the Lagos State Government to wit: right to dignity of human person Section 34(1)(a), right to personal liberty Section 35(1), right to freedom of movement Section 41(1), and freedom from discrimination Section 42(1)(a) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended in 2011) as well as the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In a statement in support of the motion on notice, the state chairman of NCP, Sir Peter Okala, said that NCP, which has the history of protecting Nigerians, would not watch helplessly for a constitutional government like Lagos State to go against the law that established it with impunity, adding that that is why the party aligned with Orunkoya, the first plaintiff to bring up the action against Lagos State Government.

Source: Radio Biafra.

Ohanaeze condemned the multiple taxation imposed on traders by Lagos State.


Ohanaeze logo

Igbo youths, under the aegis of Ohanaeze Youth Council, OYC, have condemned the multiple taxation imposed on traders by Lagos State Government.

They also condemned the constant closure of markets on flimsy excuses by the government and recent imposition of one Alhaji Abibu Oladotun Oki as Babaloja of All Mushin Motor Spare Parts Markets (Ladipo market).

The youths, in a statement issued by OYC’s Secretary, Board of Trustees, Mazi Okwu Okwu, said: “We have watched the Lagos State Government’s anti-poor and anti-Igbo policies of Governor Raji Fashola, ranging from unlawful deportation, detention, multiple taxation, displacement of Igbos from their places of business to incessant harassment and closure of Igbo interest-dominated markets.

“Until the coming of Mr. Fashola, and his predecessor, Senator Bola Tinubu, Lagos had been an enabling and business-friendly haven for the Igbos and other non-Yoruba ethnic nationalities.

“The Igbos are through legalisation of illegalities and fraudulent financial regimes, made to bear the burdens of financing Lagos budgets and projects to the detriment of their respective business interests.

“Igbo dominated markets in Mushin and other areas of Lagos had under the veil of not carrying out sanitation been closed, only for the Igbos to be made to pay millions of naira before reopening them.”

On imposition of Babaloja on Ladipo market traders, the youths wondered why a Yoruba man would be made leader of a market exclusively developed and long operated by the Igbo people, even in the face of Ndi Igbo market leaderships, headed by president-generals?

“In view of this, we call on Governor Fashola’s government to leave Ndi Igbo alone, since its actions and selective policies are exposing the Igbo nation to internal social phobia not good for Igbo-Yoruba relationship.”

Source: Radio Biafra.

How Lagos Broke Its Own Laws On Deportation‏ By Femi Falana.


Femi Falana
By Femi Falana (SAN)

In a recent intervention on the illegal deportation of beggars and the destitute by Lagos. Anambra and some other state governments I demanded for a new urban renewal policy that provides adequately for the rehabilitation and resettlement of all displaced people in the beautification of state capitals. The demand is anchored on the fundamental rights of disabled people guaranteed by the Constitution.

Although 135 beggars from Osun State were deported from Lagos between April 2010 and July 2013 Governor Rauf Aregbesola cautioned his Anambra state colleague, Mr. Peter Obi to desist from politicizing the expulsion of 14 beggars of Anambra state origin from Lagos. But Governor Aregbesola would have added value to the debate if he had disclosed that the poor state of Osun does not expel beggars and the destitute but rehabilitate and resettle them in recognition of their right to dignity.

However, in defense of the involvement of the Lagos State government in the deportation saga the State House of Assembly Speaker, Honourable Adebayo Ikuforiji threatened that the exercise would continue until the state was rid of people who are “considered as illegitimate burden as well as serious challenge to the State”. With respect, the threat is totally uncalled in the light of the several progressive laws enacted by Lagos state to protect disabled people, neglected children, abandoned pregnant women, victims of domestic violence and persons living with HIV/AIDS in Lagos State. Incidentally, Honourable Ikuforiji is one of the legislators who passed the relevant bills signed into law by both Governors Bola Tinubu and Babatunde Fashola SAN from 2003-2013.

One of such legislations is the Disabled Persons Welfare (Enhancement) Law of Lagos State, 2004 which defines a ‘disabled person’ as “any physically or mentally disadvantaged person.” Since the deaf, the blind and crippled people as well as those who are non compos mentis are either physically or mentally challenged they are entitled to the protection of the law, regardless of their states of origin.

The law has specifically mandated the government to set up “rehabilitation centres for disabled persons and vocation centres in each Local Government Area of the State” and make provisions “to enhance the placement of disabled persons in suitable employment or vocation” and assist them “financially or otherwise.” As the law never contemplated the deportation of disabled people from Lagos it has imposed a duty on the government to promote interaction between them and their able colleagues “within and outside the State”.

Convinced that the law has not adequately addressed the challenges faced by persons living with disability in Lagos State government enacted the Lagos State Special Peoples Law on June 24, 2011. Section 23 of the law requires the government to ” ensure that persons living with disability have good standards of living for themselves and their families, including adequate food, clothing and housing and continuous improvement of living conditions”. In particular, they are entitled to free tuition in all public schools and free medical treatment in all public health institutions in the State. Equally guaranteed are the rights of disabled people to freedom of communication, participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sports. The convenience and safety of persons living with disability shall be provided for in public and private buildings, vehicles, trains or aircrafts and at parking lots.

The law has created an Office of Disability Affairs while a Disability Fund has been established to cater for all disabled people. Governor Fashola SAN inaugurated a governing board made up of seven members including a blind man and three crippled persons on July 9, 2012. On the memorable occasion the governor said that “The society has always responded to the challenge of physically challenged people by giving them alms but that what they need is a level playing ground – level enough to give them the opportunities to be able to carry on with their lives.”

Apart from setting the pace in the inclusivity of persons living with disability in Nigeria the Lagos State government promulgated the Law Against Abandonment of Pregnant Women 2013 on August 9, 2013. The law has criminalized the callous and irresponsible conduct of some men who impregnate women and abandon them. If enforced by the government the law is going to curb the incidence of indigent pregnant women and nursing mothers begging for alms on the streets.

Another relevant legislation is the Lagos State Protection Against Domestic Violence Law, 2007. The law has vested the courts with the power to issue prohibition orders to stop acts of domestic violence and make appropriate orders. Parents and guardians are obligated to provide for the welfare, care and education of their children and wards. It is on record that the human rights community has taken advantage of the provisions of the law to reunite a number of street kids and other abandoned children with their parents.

Furthermore, the Lagos State Child’s Rights Law, 2006 has explicitly set out the rights of the child, the responsibility of parents towards the child and the duty of government to protect and defend the child. The law has prohibited child marriage and the act of sending children to the streets to beg for alms or hawk goods or subjecting them to any disability or deprivation. Community homes shall be maintained in the local governments to provide care and accommodation for needy children.

In addition, the Lagos State Compulsory Universal Basic Education Law, 2006 has provided free and compulsory education for every child from primary to junior secondary school at the expense of the government. It is a criminal offence for  a parent not to send  any child to school. The enforcement of both the Child’s Rights Law and the UBE Law ought to have effectively put an end to the criminal use of children as beggars and traders.

Under the Lagos State Adoption Law, 2003 juvenile courts may authorize the adoption of any child under the age of 17 years who is abandoned or whose parents or relatives and other relatives are unknown. Any child above the age of one year may be voluntarily given out for adoption by his parents. It is a crime for parents to marry their adopted children while an adopted person cannot marry the natural child of his/her adopted parents.

The Lagos State government has equally enacted the Law for the Protection of Persons Living with HIV and Affected by AIDS, 2007. Aside the prohibition of discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS the law has provided for the establishment of a fund to facilitate the purchase of antiviral drugs for persons living with the dangerous disease. Under the Lagos State HIV/AIDS Control Agency Law, 2008 an agency has been established to carry out among other things, the removal of “human resources, financial cultural and information barriers to HIV/AIDS prevention”.

There is no doubt that many poor people resort to begging for alms due to poverty and ignorance while the rich who give alms to them do so on religious grounds. But through education, empowerment, public enlightenment and enforcement of the welfare laws  those who engage in alms begging would have seen the disgraceful practice. In fact, the enforcement of the Lagos State Sanitation Law, 1984 should have stopped street trading and removed criminal scum from the streets by now. A government, which cannot enforce its own laws on account of official negligence or ineptitude, should not be allowed to look for scapegoats among the vulnerable people.

It is pertinent to note that the Lagos high court has upheld some of the rights guaranteed by the welfare laws. Recently, a bank was ordered by the court to pay damages of N250, 000.00 to a physically challenged person who was prevented him from entering a banking hall with clutches. Last year, the court set aside the termination letter of an employee who was sacked by her employer on the ground that she was HIV positive. A few months ago, the court also awarded N500, 000.00 damages against the police for detaining an 8- year old boy in lieu of his father who was wanted for his alleged involvement in a criminal matter.

Regrettably, the aforementioned welfare laws have not been enforced due to lack of political will by the government.  Indeed, the office of the public defender is specifically tasked with the responsibility to provide legal services “for indigent citizens of Lagos State especially women, children and those with physical disability resident in the State irrespective of tribe, race or religion”. It is submitted that if the office of the public defender had carried out its duty of defending“those with physical disability resident in the State” the embarrassing repatriation of a handful of beggars from Lagos to their states or origin would not have occurred.

However, instead of addressing the issue of illegal deportation of disabled people from Lagos and other state capitals including Akwa in Anambra state a section of the petit bourgeoisie has resorted to mud slinging, name calling and whipping up of primordial sentiments. Let such opportunists be told that this battle transcends petty ethnic jingoism. It demands a commitment on the part of all men and women of goodwill to team up with the human rights community in ensuring the enforcement of the welfare laws of Lagos State in the overall interests of the marginalized masses.

Even though the Lagos State government deserves commendation for enacting a corpus of welfare laws it has itself to blame for violating the rights of the victims of social economic injustice guaranteed by the said laws. Rather than persist in illegality in the circumstances the government should stop further deportations and speedily set the engine in motion for the full implementation of the aforementioned welfare laws. It is hoped that other states will enact similar legislations and faithfully enforce them. After all, each of them has created the office of the public defender and established a mediation centre modelled after the Lagos state system.

Femi Falana SAN.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Lagos Deportation: The Salient Issues Undebated By Okafor C. Udoka.


Posted by siteadmin
By Okafor C. Udoka

The recent deportation of Igbo and “destitute” at the thick of the night by overzealous agents of the Lagos State Government presents to the Nigerian  State and its citizens another golden opportunity to address core issues which challenge  our sensibility  as a people, national co-existence, and nationhood. However, as the debate gathers steam, irredeemable tribalists hijacked the essence of the debate and turned it into pedestrian, if not infantile, tattling between the Igbo race and the Yoruba nation.

At the heart of the pedestrianisation  of this all-important debate are “respected” and privileged Nigerians whose socio-educational status impelled that they should  have known better but unfortunately this class of Nigerians chose to stoke ethnic tension amongst Nigerians who had co-existed as brothers, sisters, in-laws, associates and friends long before European explorers put us on the world map. The debate got so degenerated to the extent we even had to read unguarded utterances of former governors and ministers which only succeeded in widening the fault line in our national life and continued co-existence. However, the utterances and writings of the elites and former government officials on this debate have shown, even to the Pre-Nursery pupil, why Nigeria  has engaged the reverse gear since Independence as it also indicates why we remain mis-governed, if not dis-governed and un-governed in reality.

One fact stands unassailable in all these: the deportation of any Nigerian from his or her place of residence by any state government, be it Lagos State, Anambra State  or Kaduna State, is unconstitutional, grossly illegal and unquestionably criminal which must be resisted by Nigeria and all Nigerians irrespective of ethnic, socio-economic, political and religious status. This is the reason why all those who had participated in the illicit practice of deportation chose to strike at the thick of the night. Luckily, the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is unambiguous on who is a Nigerian citizen together with the quantum of rights and obligations that come with it.

In a way, it is a grave indictment and and irresponsibility for any state government to deport any Nigerian in whatever guise. The attempt to christen the deportation ordeal as “re-integration” cannot eclipse the attendant moral burden which comes with it. This  is because it indicates government rascality and inability to take care of the poor and mentally challenged. It challenges our national ethos and psyche as a people who instead of solving their problems develop an attitude of escapism which end up leaving poverty unchallenged as it continues to abuse the greater percentage of our people.

Throughout all ages in human existence, poverty, disease and ignorance remain the ugly triad which harass human dignity. And migration exist as an option of exploring greener pastures. On the other hand, leadership and government were consciously developed by the people as a response and veritable means of combating this triad and restore the dignity of man. Little wonder the Great Confucius, using the powers of government declared, “in a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.” The great philosopher followed up the declaration by making a decree against poverty and worked earnestly in eradicating poverty in ancient Lu State of China.

At the dawn of Nigeria’s Independence in 1960,  over 84 per cent of our citizens were living comfortably above poverty line; public utilities were functional and we had almost the best social and health services in Africa. Our future looked brighter with the discovery of crude oil in commercial quantity in Oloibiri even as our agricultural sector boomed.

By 1980, poverty level had climbed to alarming 28.1 per cent prompting a re-think in the way we were governed. However, at the eve of the return of democracy in 1999, poverty stood at earth quaking 87 per cent; in other words, 93 million of the then 120 million citizens of Nigeria did not earn up to USD1 per day. As if these figures are not indicative of a failed leadership, after 13 years of civil rule with its attendant international goodwill, grants and boom in crude oil prices, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) jolted Nigerians the most when it declared that 112 million of Nigeria’s 167 million people are poor in February 2012; this is to say that 67.1 percent of Nigerians live below USD 1 per day. ‎ This development calls for serious concern owing to the fact that the same NBS had stated that only 51.6 percent of our people live below poverty line by the close of business in 2004. These figures simply indicates that poverty has reached an all-time peak in Nigeria where the rural poor have no other choice than to migrate to major cities, and towns in search of better standard of living.

Indeed, it must be noted from the onset that migration must have its basis in strategic planning and careful study of economics and personal skills so that it would not pose security and socio-economic risk to the people and government alike, the factual truism remains that a hungry man must move and provide bread for his nuclear community. This is pertinent owing to the fact that our society has not attained the status of Europe and other advanced countries where governments provide social benefit and security for the citizens in order to keep migration, poverty and violent crime at its lowest ebb.

If we advance the logic that migration must be rooted in economics, capital and personal skills, which unarguably forms the foundation of modern-day migration pattern internationally, we must also note that human capital development can only be attained through qualitative education which is absent at affordable rate in our clime today; more so, electing to benchmark migration on human capital development further indicts government at all levels as serial “abusers” of our human dignity over the years.

There is certainly no two ways about it: government must be alive and responsible in the development of human capital of our people if we must hear the last of this trending deportation of Nigerians in Nigeria. Our government and leaders must also learn to stop instigating our people against our people in attempt to cover its failure while the elite must be made to understand that it is in our best interest that all ethno-religious tensions in Nigeria are eradicated . On this score,  it is very disheartening to note that a Governor  deliberately introduced politics in an already charged and contentious ethnic debate when reasons and constitutional provisions failed to justify the crass Lagos state deportation; one begins to wonder if we were expected to keep mute as the Lagos State government continues to abuse our citizens and rape our constitution.

As a point of fact, the political class manipulate the impressionable nature of Nigerians to instigate maximum controversy  and poverty in our polity.

Ordinarily, mama Bola who shares a stall with mama Okafor and mama Effiong at the Free zone section of Ariaria International market Aba, Abia state has no issues with the tongue  and creed of her neighbours; all that matters to them is bountiful sales so that they can be able to provide for their families. Similarly, papa Kayode and papa Tamuno who live in papa Adamu’s house in Sabon Gari, Kano State are appreciative of the warm hospitality they gyrate in Kano and hope that their children would take after them in deepening  inter-ethnic brotherliness in Nigeria for peace and economic well-being of all Nigerians. What is obtainable among the fathers of Adamu, Kayode and Tamuno in Kano is indeed nurtured and adavanced jealously by Yakubu, Edet, Ola and Ifechukwu who live in a 4 bedroom flat at Badagry, Lagos State. For Osas, Itoro, Aisha and Chimdi, who  live in the same room and eat from the same pot at the hostel of University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, they firmly believe in a stable and peaceful Nigeria so that they can also contribute their quota in advancing Nigeria once their academic pursuit is done but upon the entrance of  the political class, they are reminded of their differences in state of origin and tribe.

Through commerce, arts, tourism, technology, religion, marriage, and migration, Nigerians  have, over the years, striven consciously to collapse their ethnic differences for  greater national cohesion and advancement but the fact that Isah who must fill Kano State as his place of origin whenever he deals with government even when he was born and has lived all his life in Umuahia, Abia State makes a mess of our march to nationhood and a sad reminder that more destitutes shall be deported in the future in Nigeria.  This is compounded by the Nigerian constitution which upholds quota, and federal character ingrained in state of origin as a measure of who get what, how and when in the country.

The essence of federal character principle in our constitution is beautifully desirable, if not perfect but the observance of the principle based on state of origin impels a feeling of “tribalism” in us all.  Therefore, it is high-time we need to face the journey of nationhood completely serious and diligently collapse our differences as the Great Nnamdi Azikiwe urged us in the build up to Independence. We can do this by electing all that promotes our unity and shared future while replacing state of origin in our statute book with state of residence so that Nigeria can work for all Nigerians bearing in mind that the ceaseless troubles in Jos, Plateau State revolves around indigeneship against constitutionally guaranteed citizenship.

In a nutshell,  the debate on the unending deportation of Nigerians in Nigeria by  various state governments ably led by the Lagos State government presents us a veritable opportunity to address the question of poverty, human capital development, citizenship Vs indigeneship and strict observance of the provisions of the constitution. And we must not fail to stand up and find solution(s) to these challenges no matter how hard unrepentant tribalists, crass bigots, ethnic jingoists and uncaring elite try to attack, confuse and distract us; this is fitting because Nigeria is ours to build and posterity shall have no kind words for us should we fail in this onerous task of chiselling Nigeria for peaceful co-existence, nationhood and sustainable development. As such, we shall strive to evolve practical strategies of combating poverty in Nigeria. Poverty is indeed a serious issue which made it numero uno of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals; thus, our generation have no choice than to combat it decisively. We must support all (government and corporate) strategies aimed at poverty eradication.

The fight against poverty cannot be complete without coordinated human capital development; hence, government at all levels must renew and rededicate their effort in the provision of qualitative and affordable education to all Nigerians while programmes for skills acquisition should be floated for out-of-School Nigerians to prepare them adequately to fit in the competitiveness of our globalising world. As citizens, we have a greater role to play by renewing our commitment to the education and discipline of our young ones. We must also make out time to monitor the educational progress of children as leaving this great duty to teachers and government is utterly inexplicable, if not unforgivable and irresponsible.

We shall elect to make laws which fit our peculiarity as a nation. We also have a need to show willingness and commitment to this through constitutional amendment which shall acknowledge our Nigerianship based on residence status; thus settling the indigeneship versus citizenship question once and for all for the good of the nation.

We must also hold our government responsible and end the violation of our constitution by those in authority as displayed by the Lagos deportation ordeal. Government at all levels in Nigeria should be encouraged to uphold all articles of the constitution in practice however inconvenient they may be because the constitution exist to protect us all. Let us also advance the teaching and learning of “Citizenship Education” formally and informally in our national life, this is because Citizenship education elevates all that makes Nigeria great.

Finally, we owe ourselves and posterity through this Lagos state ill-conceived deportation policy, the duty to learn and develop into a great nation. And the time to debate and build a greater Nigeria founded on common ethos, peace, equity, progress, unity and love is now. Can our generation stand up to this national task?

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Femi Fani Kayode’s Gaffe And Bigotry On Lagos Deportations By Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu.


By Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu

Many Nigerians would qualify to be rebranded a different species of Homo sapiens   totally separate from all other human species. The evidence of these unusual phenomena is obvious in the uncommon absurdities, the monumental injustice, the sheer wickedness, the groundswell of hate and the self destruction with which the nation is defined.  Added to this is the total and abject failure of Nigeria in spite of Olympian endowments in human and material resources. There is no other nation on the face of the earth with Nigeria’s endowments that has failed as much as Nigeria neither is there any precedent in human history. Nigeria is thus a human and historical exception in failure.

But wait a minute;  Nigeria is not inhabited by animals, Nigeria is inhabited by human beings and led by human beings many of whom unfortunately like the Femi Fani Kayode’s  of this world might not even be human at all or even if they are human  constitute a different species.  It is such abnormal beings  that  have broken the world record of making a richly endowed nation the greatest experiment in failure ever known to man.  And thus nothing works, even though we have everything that should make it work, and thus we are only capable of hate including self hate, which is why a councillor or local government chairman will steal and deprive the very community he or she comes from, the governor will steal and deprive the state he comes from, the president will steal and deprive the nation he comes from, and thus we engage in nothing other than self destruction as the world watches in amazement. It is not surprising that Nigeria has produced more sadists and more mass killers than Adolf Hitler.

Not even animals have ever been known to indulge in the level of self destruction and perfidy associated with Nigeria. Animals do take responsibility for their children/ siblings, they don’t kill their own kind and they have a social structure and community that is recognisable in the herds of a kind that often throng together. Nigeria has thus proven to be even more debased than animals have ever been capable off and the reason is clear; the quality of humanity of many Nigerians which has in turn influenced their character and the way they think. There have been suggestions in some quarters that many Nigerians are mentally disturbed and thus lunatics, but even mad persons do have basic common sense which is something that is totally absent in many of these characters that have vandalised the nation.

One of such characters is Femi Fani Kayode, a relevance seeking  opportunist  who is  fond  of  jumping into every national  issue and almost always  injecting tribalism into simple issues  of citizenship or social justice as his strategy of finding relevance. Being incapable of being objective or constructive, his articles/utterances are often full of contradictions and sometimes outright nonsense.  He has nonetheless carved a niche for himself as a disrespectful talkative loudmouth and one of the rabidly bigoted/ignorant Nigerians who thrive in fanning the flames of the “tribalism industry.”  The recklessness and illogicality’s he brings to bear on issues of national  importance  no doubt marks him out as one of those  many Nigerians who should be rebranded a different  species of humanity responsible for Nigeria’s damning predicament.  Nowhere is this more demonstrated than his take in the constitutional issue of deportation of persons from Lagos, which he has characteristically and laughably chosen to make a tribal issue. A man of Fani Kayode’s education is ordinarily expected to be able to distinguish between emotional issues and constitutional issues, he is also expected to like a member of a jury be capable of good judgement on the side of justice devoid of sentiments for the simple reason that as the saying goes “injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere”.   But Fani Kayode found it impossible to exercise good judgement, because he belongs to the group who thrive in the “tribalism industry” and in the suffering  of Nigerians including his own people.

The illegality of the action of the Lagos state government in the deportation of person should be obvious even to the layman.  Nigeria has a constitution which spells out very clearly the rights of every Nigerian to reside wherever they chose in any part of the nation without let or hindrance.  In violation of this constitutional right Governor Fashola started a campaign of institutional kidnapping (arresting and holding persons against their will) and deportation of persons to several states within Nigeria. At the last count Fashola has deported people to several Northern states, to Oyo, Ogun states and recently to Onitsha where at the dead of night persons some of whom were from Edo state, Delta and Kogi states were dumped.  Some of the deported persons were reportedly lunatics who could not communicate or express themselves and it is possible that some of them might even be from Lagos state or elsewhere.

The pretext is that the deported persons are homeless and destitute who were repatriated to reunite them with their family; but you don’t hold people against their will/constitutional rights and dump them at night along the road and claim to be reuniting them with their families. Government exists to provide for the most downtrodden and impoverished in society. It is the responsibility of government to invest in creating jobs, opportunities, and to rehabilitate the downtrodden including the disabled in their respective jurisdictions and not to deport them.  In all normal and well governed societies, government has a massive budget of social welfare with which they provide for social housing, unemployment allowances for those who have no jobs, disability allowances, medical cards and other varieties of social aid.

There are thousands of technically destitute Nigerians residing in Britain, Ireland, France, Germany and elsewhere who have been housed by the government in council houses and who depend on their livelihood from social welfare payments and other benefits. The government of those countries have not deported   Nigerians back to Nigeria because they are destitute and dependent on the government to survive in line with the logic of Lagos state government and their enablers like Fani Kayode.  If Fashola was so interested in resolving the issue of destitution he could have shown an example by rehabilitating  indigenes of his state, but it is not on record anywhere that Fashola has provided social housing, unemployment benefits, medical insurance  and other social aid to poor indigenes of Lagos state. It is thus evident that what Fashola has manifested is  the  usual  sadism and wickedness of Nigerian leaders and their disdain for the poor and downtrodden.

In light of the tragedy of the deportations, it is shameful  but not surprising  given  his antecedents that  Fani Kayode descended so low as to make it a tribal issue when he said  amongst others that “ the Ibos where  given back  their properties when they returned to Lagos after  the Nigeria-Biafra war, and that while Ibos have been free to invest in Lagos  the East has not allowed the Yoruba’s to invest there”.  This is the extent of ignorance, bigotry and deceit Fani Kayode brought to an issue that has to do with justice and constitutionality. In the first place it is preposterous for Fani Kayode to reduce the tragedy of the Biafran war to returned properties  when  it is obvious that the needless lives lost is more valuable than properties, it is also obvious that the Biafrans who were  willing to fight and die in that conflict would have preferred to have Biafra and lose the so called properties rather  than the situation in Nigeria today with all the injustice, oppression  and  bigotry people like him have  sowed  which is why after the millions of lives lost to keep the nation together there  are still people like him insisting that it was right to deport Nigerians in their own country.

The injustice and genocide of Biafra is an open sore which should continue to haunt people like Fani Kayode because his kith and kin participated in the mass slaughter to usurp the inalienable rights of a people to self determination (he himself has severally advocated a sovereign national conference) recognised   under international law in the United Nations charter which could have been determined through democratic means by holding a plebiscite or referendum.  Biafra was a legitimate, necessary, courageous, worthy and legendary act of self defence in the face of the mass slaughter /genocide of over 50,000 innocent Eastern civilians in the North while the head of state, Yakubu Gowon who was supposed to protect life and property under all circumstances did nothing and even promoted the Nigerian army and police officers who perpetrated the genocide.  Nigeria remains unworkable and mired in the same contradictions that led to the war. Incidentally, the greatest advocates of a sovereign  national  conference  to determine the nation’s  future are from  Fani  Kayode’s  region and ethnic stock which in itself is a certain  vindication of the  Biafran resistance/struggle.

One wonders where Kayode finds the moral right to talk of the Biafran war when 43 years after the conflict people like him are supporting the deportation of Nigerians in their own supposed country?  How does he find the moral right to talk of Biafra when his father who was the deputy premier to Ladoke Akintola was part of the group that fought/conspired against chief Obafemi Awolowo   and pioneered election rigging in Nigeria through the massive rigging fiesta in the Western region in 1964 that unleashed the violence (wetie) that eventually led to the January 1966 coup and consequently the war? If not for corrupt acts of people like Fani Kayode’s father in rigging elections and orchestrating violence in the West, there would have been no coup and thus no war. It is easy for hypocrites like Kayode to conveniently bypass the facts when he talks of Biafra and the crisis that led to it but historical facts are on record and his father played some of the critical corrupt roles that truncated the nation’s democracy and led to the war.

Secondly,  his premise that the Yoruba have not been allowed to invest in the East is the most laughable deceit of the century, because there is no law that forbids  the  Yoruba from investing in the East. Yoruba’s have not invested in the East because they choose not to. For someone like myself who grew up in what was then  Midwest  and  later  Bendel  state, I don’t remember seeing  any Yoruba person or Yoruba investment  in the area. Maybe Fani Kayode will also claim that the people of the Midwest which incidentally used to be part of the Western region also prevented them from investing there.  Truth is;   Yoruba’s are generally not given to much migration and investment outside their region within Nigeria. You are more likely to see a Yoruba person in London than in Calabar and you are more likely to see Yoruba investments in properties and others in London than in Benin City.  Even in Abuja which by virtue of being the federal  capital  attracts all Nigerians, you are more likely to see other Nigerians owning properties and investing than you would  Yorubas, I am not aware of any law that stops  Yorubas from investing in Abuja as much as other Nigerians. This tendency to shun investments outside the West for whatever reason is the real reason why there isn’t much Yoruba investment in the East and elsewhere and not the garbage peddled by the likes of Kayode. He might himself be in a better position to tell us why his people are loath to investing outside their region.

Another factor, Fani Kayode conveniently ignored is how the federal   government policy has affected migration and investment in Nigeria.  Nigerian migration and investment is driven mainly by federal presence and investments in infrastructure. This is why Nigeria with a population in excess of 150 million people only has  two major cities of note; namely Lagos and Abuja. After the war with the consolidation of the unitary system, much development was driven only by the federal government. Lagos being the then federal capital benefitted from a massive investment in infrastructure and federal presence, it is estimated that 90% of the infrastructure in Lagos state was built by the federal government. Murtala  Muhammed international airport, Tin Can Port, Federal palace hotel,  Ikoyi Hotel, 1004 towers, national  secretariat  towers, national stadium, national arts theatre, Nitel  building (the tallest in Nigeria)  Eko bridge, third mainland bridge, carter bridge and all the flyovers in Lagos amongst so many other infrastructure were built by the federal government. There is more federal presence and more flyovers built by the federal government   in Lagos alone than the whole of the Southeast, South-south and North Central. If as bigots like Fani Kayode deceitfully claim, Lagos was developed by the West then we should have seen much of that development in Ibadan which was after all the capital of the Western region.

No city in Nigeria has benefitted as much in federal investments and presence like Lagos with the only exception being Abuja which is the current federal capital. Without this massive federal investments Lagos would predictably have been like so many other small desolate coastal towns across Nigeria.  This massive government presence and infrastructure naturally pushed migration of jobseekers, private investors and others towards Lagos, (this same phenomenon is being presently replicated in Abuja) and naturally created the cosmopolitan city Lagos became. Notably, at the same time that Lagos was benefitting from massive federal investments, other parts of Nigeria particularly the East was ignored and even marginalised.  Since capital and people mostly  go where there is infrastructure and federal presence which is evident  across the world  in London, Paris, Dublin, Amsterdam, Belgium,  Accra,  Nairobi amongst others  being the most cosmopolitan cities in their countries  the influx was routed  to Lagos.  Abuja, until recently an empty forest has been transformed through massive federal investments. It is very likely that  Fani  Kayode being one of the “federal  looters”  with ill gotten wealth has a home or office in Abuja because of  its status as  the federal capital, how would Kayode feel  if Northerners  some years later  start insulting residents of Abuja and claiming the North developed Abuja?

All factors considered, Fani  Kayode can thus not have expected the Yoruba’s  to invest in the East even if they wanted to when the federal government made sure as a state policy after  the civil war  to lock the East  out of all federal presence and infrastructure,  which happens  to be the factors  that  drives migration and investments. If for example Enugu or Sapele happened to be Nigeria’s capital with all the federal presence an infrastructure that goes with it, the same corresponding migration and investments from all sections of Nigeria would take place there the same way it happened in Lagos and now happening in Abuja. The indisputable fact is that federal presence and infrastructure is the chief driver of migration and investments in Nigeria. For this same reason and factors, it is very rare to see non natives settled elsewhere in the West outside Lagos, and even Yoruba’s themselves from all the other states invest and settle more in Lagos than elsewhere in the West.  The factors that made Lagos an area of influx and that inhibited migration and investments in other parts of Nigeria is an issue that someone like Fani Kayode is expected to understand.

The question of who owns Lagos should never arise except in the  heads of  the ignoramus  who thrive in the “tribalism industry”  like Fani  Kayode,  for the simple reason that Lagos like all Nigerian cities, towns, villages and even natural resources under her soil is owned by all Nigerians. This is after all why  crude oil resources that is obtained mainly from the Niger-Delta is allocated to all states and local governments  across  Nigeria, an allocation that exclusively sustains most of the states in Fani Kayode’s  region.  Kayode used to live in Accra which happens to be the largest city in Ghana settled by people from all parts of the country. I am not sure he ever witnessed a situation where the Accra authorities were deporting people to other parts of Ghana? And since he is the only one in his family who lives in Nigeria according to his own admission, how would he feel if all his relations abroad are deported back to Nigeria because they assessed social welfare or any social aid from the state?  Does his relations’ residing abroad have anymore entitlements and rights of residence in the foreign countries where they reside than Nigerians in their own country?  Instead of always pandering to ignorance/bigotry and insulting residents of Lagos as the likes of Fani Kayode and his co travellers have become notorious for, he should be grateful to all Nigerians that the federal government located much federal investments in his region at the expense of other regions which created the cosmopolitan city that Lagos is.

Corruption and tribalism are Nigeria’s two biggest industries; not surprisingly Fani Kayode is heavily invested in both, but it is important to remind people like him who have infamously tried to reduce a constitutional and moral issue to a tribal issue, that Fashola has also deported persons to Oyo and Ogun states who happen to be from the same region. It is also possible that some of the lunatics dumped in Onitsha who could not identify themselves are indigenes of Lagos state. Injustice has no boundaries and Fashola’s action if unchecked means that even Fani Kayode who is not himself from Lagos state could be deported someday. Knowing the history of Africa with ethnically and religiously homogenous countries like Somalia and Rwanda torn by strife and conflicts, Fani Kayode should realise that injustice can tear apart even members of the same immediate family.  Nigeria has failed because of the penchant to perpetrate, justify injustice and fan the flames of tribalism.  Nothing destroys a people or nation like injustice and people like Fani Kayode should realise that injustice has no boundaries.

While he conveniently wears the tribal coat as a relevance seeking gambit, it is not a secret that the likes of  Fani  Kayode loves no one but himself, neither does he speak for the Yoruba; an urbane and sophisticated people who must  find him an embarrassment.  He simply belongs to the sadistic, unconscionable, bigoted and wicked political class that have destroyed the nation. The fact that he is currently facing trial for looted funds  while a minister of aviation lends credence to the fact that he is just another vulture waiting to devour the carcass of the suffering Nigerian.  While a minister of aviation he had no achievement beyond looting the coffers and planes were crashing from the sky like rain drops. There are suggestions that  he is a disturbed person, some suggest he is high on drugs, while all that may be true, I believe his real problem is  belonging to the different species of Homo sapiens  that have made Nigeria a laughing stock in the world and vindicated the racists who claim the black race is inferior. My parting advice to him is to repent, seek to retrieve his humanity, seek treatment and learn to be on the side of justice if he hopes that his children, siblings and future generations can have a normal nation and society to live in where they will be free from all types of bigotry, oppression and inhumanity.

Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu

Email: lawrencenwobu@gmail.com

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

The Lagos Deportation And The Law By Femi Falana.


Femi Falana
By Femi Falana

Deportation of dissidents :  In 1885 the British colonial regime deported King Jaja of Opobo to a remote island in West Indies where he died in 1889. His offence was that he had challenged the imperialist control of the coastal trade. In 1941 Comrade Michael Imoudu, President of the Nigerian Union of Railwaymen was deported from Lagos  and banished to his hometown, Auchi in the Benin Province as he was considered “a potential threat to public safety” . He only returned to Lagos in 1945 following the revocation of sections 57-63 of the General Defence Regulation, 1941 under which he had been detained. There were other nationalist agitators and labour leaders who were deported and banished to prevent them from taking part in the struggle against colonialism. The barbaric practice of deporting Nigerians was resuscitated by the defunct military dictatorship. In particular, the reactionary regimes of Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha resorted to the crude harassment of political opponents by deportation.

In 1992 the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi SAN, Dr Beko Ransome -Kuti and I were deported from Lagos and detained at Kuje prison for challenging the unending military rule of the Babangida junta. The retired General Zamani Lekwot was deported from Kaduna and detained with us in the prison. The following year we were also repatriated from Lagos and banished to the same prison for leading peaceful rallies in Lagos against the criminal annulment of the June 12 presidential election. In June 1994, the winner of the presidential election, Chief MKO Abiola was deported from Lagos and detained in military custody in Kano, Borno and Abuja.

In 1995, the chairman of the Campaign for Democracy (CD), Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti alerted the world that the secret trial of General Olusegun Obasanjo and others by a Special Military Tribunal had been concluded and that the convicts were being prepared for execution. For leaking such information to the media the human rights leader was tried in Lagos, jailed for life  and deported to Katsina prison. The CD vice chairman, Shehu Sanni was arrested in Kaduna, jailed for life in Lagos and banished to Kirikiri maximum prison in Apapa.  Four journalists viz: Chris Anyanwu, Kunle Ajibade, Charles Mbah and Charles Obi who were convicted for being accessories after the fact of treason i.e the 1995 phantom coup, were deported from Lagos and kept in separate prisons in the northern states.

In 1996, Chief Fawehinmi SAN was once again deported from Lagos and detained at the Bauchi prison while Femi Aborishade and I were deported from Lagos and held at the Gumel and Mawadashi prisons (in Jigawa State) respectively. Comrade Frank Kokori who was arrested in Lagos was banished to Bama prisons in Borno state for 4 years.  General Obasanjo who was convicted in Lagos was deported to Yola prison. His ex-deputy, General Shehu Yaradua was deported from Kaduna, convicted in Lagos and held at various times in Kirikiri, Port Harcourt and Abakaliki prisons.

Like King Jaja both Chief Abiola and General Yaradua died in suspicious circumstances while they were in custody. But as deportation of colonial subject subjects could not be justified even under colonial rule it was carried out pursuant to special regulations. In the same vein, the military dictators engaged in deportation of citizens under the preventive detention decrees and the Prison Act.

Deportation of Poor People

It is common knowledge that the beautification project of the Babatunde Fashola Administration has led to the deportation of hundreds of the jetsam and the flotsam from Lagos state to their states of origin. The elite and the media have been celebrating the ban on “Okada” from the major roads and the removal of traders and area boys from the streets. For understandable reasons, most of  the hundreds of  thousands of poor people who have been displaced and dislodged in the operation “keep Lagos clean” are of the Yoruba extraction.

In fact, on April 9,2009, when the Lagos state government deported 129 beggars of Oyo state origin and dumped them at Molete in Ibadan the Alao Akala regime alleged that the action was aimed at sabotaging his government. Just last week, some beggars of osun state origin were also deported by the Lagos state government and dumped at Osogbo.

It is sad to note that most Nigerians never took cognisance of the war being waged by state governments against the poor and disadvantaged citizens in the urban renewal policy until the much-publicized case of the 14 beggars of Anambra state origin who were deported in Lagos and dumped in Onitsha about three weeks ago. In fact, it was the condemnation of the deportation by the Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi that drew the attention of the elite to the unfortunate development. However, in defence of its action the Lagos State Government stated that it entered into an agreement with the Anambra State Government through its liaison office in Lagos on the controversial deportation.

Although the Anambra State government has not denied the allegation that it was privy to the deportation of the 14 beggars it is on record that in December 2011 Governor Peter Obi Administration had deported 29 beggars to their states of origin i.e Akwa Ibom and Ebonyi states. Apart from such official hypocrisy the Peter Obi regime did not deem it fit to protest when the Abia state government purged its civil service of  “non-indigenes” in 2012. Many of the victims of the unjust policy who hail from Anambra state were left in the lurch.

In June 2011, the Federal Capital Territory government deported 129 beggars to their respective states of origin. In May 2013, hundreds of beggars were also removed from the streets and expelled from Abuja. Of course, it is common knowledge that the FCT authorities has continued to demolish residential houses without following due process in order to “restore the masterplan of Abuja” which was distorted through corruption and abuse of office. The majority of the victims of such illegal demolitions who are poor have been dislocated and forced out of FCT.

Last week, the Rivers State Government removed 113 Nigerians from the streets of Port Harcourt and deported them to their states of origin. The Akwa Ibom state government has just contacted its Lagos counterpart of the planned deportation of two “mad” Lagosians roaming the streets of Uyo. Many other state governments are busy deporting beggars, mad men and other destitute in the on-going beautification of state capitals. Those who are defending the Igbo beggars out of sheer ethnic irredentism should be advised to examine the socio-economic implications of the anti-people’s urbanisation policy being implemented by the federal and state  governments in the overall interests of the masses.

The Illegality of Internal Deportation

Since deportation has been resuscitated under the current political dispensation it has become pertinent to examine the legal implications of the forceful deportation of a group of citizens on account of their impecunious status. Although street trading and begging have been banned in some states It is submitted, without any fear of contradiction, that there is no existing law in Nigeria which has empowered the federal and state governments to deport any group of Nigerian citizens to their states of origin.

Accordingly, the forceful removal of beggars  from their chosen abode and  repatriation to their states of origin are illegal and unconstitutional as they violate the fundamental rights of such citizens  enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended. In particular, deportation is an afront  to the human rights of the beggars to dignity of their persons (Section 34), personal liberty (Section 35), freedom of movement (Section 41), and right of residence in any part of Nigeria (Section 43).

Furthermore, the deportation of beggars and other poor people by the Federal and State Governments is a repudiation of section 15 of the Constitution which has imposed a duty on the State to promote national integration. Since the polical  objective of the State imposes a duty on the governments to “secure full residence rights for every citizen in all parts of the Federation” it is illegal to remove poor people from the streets of state capitals without providing them with alternative accommodation. By targetting beggars and the destitute and deporting them to their states of origin the state governments involved are violating Section 42 of the Constitution which has outlawed discrimination on the basis of place of birth or state of origin.

In so far as Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap A9) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 has specifically banned discriminatory treatment on the ground of “social origin, fortune, birth or other status” it is indefensible to subject any group of citizens to harrassment on account of their economic status. An urban renewal  policy that has provision for only the rich cannot be justified under Article 13 of the African Charter which provides that every citizen shall have equal access to the public services of the country.

In the celebrated case of the Minister of  Internal Affairs v. Alhaji Shugaba Abdulraham Darma (1982) 3 N.C.L.R. 915 the Court of Appeal upheld the verdict of the Borno State High Court which had held that the deportation of the Respondent (Alhaji Shugaba) from Nigeria to Chad by the Federal Government constituted “a violation of his fundamental rights to person liberty, privacy and freedom to move freely throughout Nigeria.” In the Director, State Security Service v. Olisa Agbakoba (1999) 3 NWLR (PT 595) 314 at 356 the Supreme Court reiterated that “It is not in dispute that the Constitution gives to the Nigerian citizen the right to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof.”

Since deportation has denied the vicctims the fundamental right to move freely and reside in any state of their choice it is illegal and unconstitutional. It is indubitably clear   that the fundamental human rights guaranteed by the Constitution and the African Charter Act are not for the exclusive preserve of the bourgeoisie but for the enjoyment of all Nigerian citizens including beggars and other economically marginalised people. To that extent no state governments has the power to deport or enter into agreements to repatriate any group of  citizens to their states of origin.

The Socio-economic Challenge of Deportation

It ought to be made clear to the managers of the neo-colonial state that there is no country which promotes social inequality that has successfully outlawed the poor  from existence. This explains why beggars are found in large numbers  on the streets of major cities and in the ghettos of the United States of America – the bastion of capitalism. The situation is bound to be worse in the periphery of capitalism like Nigeria where the poverty rate has reached an alarming proportion due to the failure  of the State to provide for the welfare and security of the people  which is the primary purpose of government.

The Federal and State governments should also be made to realize at all times that beggars are Nigerian citizens who lack money, food and other basic facilities to live decent lives. The authorities should stop stigmatizing and harassing them and other citizens who have been pushed to a state of penury by the gross mismanagement of the economy by a selfish and short sighted ruling class. A nation that complaints of inadequate funds to establish a social security scheme for the majority of the people allowed a cartel of fuel importers to corner $16 billion while oil thieves stole crude oil worth $7 billion   on the high seas in 2011 alone.

Yet the influential oil thieves and pirates  are walking free on the streets of our state capitals without any official harassment. Others who engage in unprecedented corruption, fraud and other financial and economic crimes have never been deported to their states of origin. It is high time the   government was restrained from  holding the poor vicariously liable for the crisis of underdevelopment of the country. Therefore, part of the billions of naira being earmarked to build mega cities should be set aside for the rehabilitation of beggars and the destitute.

There is no doubt that Lagos state is put under severe pressure, from time to time, by millions of Nigerians who have been economically displaced in their own states of origin. But unlike its counterparts the Lagos state government has devised effective strategies to compel the rich to pay taxes through their noses. In addition the monthly statutory allocation of the state from the federation account is partly based on its population. In the circumstance, the Lagos state government should take from the rich to service the poor. As in the case of most of the “area boys” who have been productively engaged by the Fashola Administration the Lagos state government should  formulate programmes for the  rehabilitation and resettlement of beggars and other destitute to make them contribute to the economy of the state.

Conclusion

In his inaugural address on January 20, 1961 the United States President, Mr. J.F. Kennedy warned that “if a free society cannot help the many who are poor it cannot save the few who are rich”. About 40 years later, those cautionary words resonated in the case of Hoffman v. South African Airways (2001) CHR 329 at 354 where Justice Ngcobo of the Constitutional Court of South Africa stated that “Our Constitution protects the weak, the marginalized, the socially outcast and the victims of prejudice and stereotyping. It is only when these groups are protected that we can be secure that our own rights are  protected.”

With respect to the  implementation of neo-liberal policies that have continued to pauperise our people i am compelled to remind the ruling class in Nigeria of the plea made by the Late Dr. Akinola Aguda in 1985 that “our new perspective in law and justice must be such as to guarantee to each of our people food, drink, lodging, clothing, education and employment in addition to the rights guaranteed to him so far by our Constitution and our laws, so that justice may mean the same thing to everyone.”

Finally, since the deporting state governments have no immigration officials to police their borders there is no assurance that the deportees will not find  their way back to where they were deported . However in view of the illegality of the deportation of poor people the governments of the federal capital territory and  the respective states are advised to stop it without any further delay. If the practice is not discontinued the deporting state governments should be prepared to defend their action in Court. Sooner than later.

FEMI FALANA, SAN

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

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