A new minister chosen by “change” president Muhammadu Buhari and confirmed by the senate this week is a hot bed of controversy. Under investigation by the ICPC, corrupt practices commission; the former Lagos State governor Babatunde Raji Fashola has been accused of widespread corruption, awarding a bulk of Lagos contracts at over 80% inflated rates to a bosom friend, Dr Tunji Olowolafe also under investigation since 2010 by the EFCC, Economic and financial crimes agency.
Also known for his demolitions of poor residences, perhaps what the governor and new minister is most remembered for across Nigeria, is his unconstitutional deportation of Nigerians habit. Former governor Raji Fashola has deported Nigerians to the north, south, east and west. This in direct violation of section 41(1) of the 1999 constitution “every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely and to reside in any part thereof…”
The deportations only gained widespread fury when a batch was deported to the East and Igbos rose up. But many did not know that the illegal and inhuman practice had been going on against Nigerians from across the nation for years.
Will He Deport Nigerians To Togo, Or Perhaps Ghana?
Some are asking where Fashola will deport Nigeria’s not too well doing and it’s non rich by political appointment to now? Togo? Ghana?
One of the features that were most inhumane about the deportations which totaled over 5000 Nigerians over his 8-year tenre was the recurrent feature of dumping the destitute deportees on the side of a highway not necessarily near their state of origin. People from Niger were deported to Kano, people from Kwara were deported to Oyo. People from Imo were deported to Anambra and so on. So his actions were not actually deportation but expulsion.
Here are important media accounts:
Lagos ‘deports’ fresh 46 destitute to Osun
Receiving the destitute at the National Youth Development Centre, Ode-Omu, yesterday, the Special Adviser to Governor Rauf Aregbesola on Youths, Sports and Special Needs, Hon. Biyi Odunlade said that the state government has no option than to take care of its citizens in any part of the country.
According to him out of the 46 destitute evacuated from Lagos, only 26 were genuine indigenes of the state after their screening.
Odunlade disclosed that about 150 destitute have been repatraited to the state from Lagos, Oyo and other places since the current administration came on board. Vanguard August 2013
70 Destitutes From Across The North Deported From Lagos To Kano
In December of 2014, SaharaReporters gathered that another 70 destitutes were carted out of Lagos and dumped this time on the outskirts of Kano. These were indigenes of Niger, Kaduna, Kebbi, Jigawa Zamfara and Sokoto states. It is puzzling why they were all dumped at the door of Kano state and if and how they were expected to relocate to their states or if Kano was supposed to be a happy receptacle for the Lagos rejects.
How we were arrested and deported to Onitsha -Victims
From EMMA UZOR, Onitsha; September 2012
At the Onitsha South Local Government secretariat annex, some of the inmates told a pathetic story of their arrest and “deportation” to Onitsha. Some of them said they were arrested while doing their normal business, kept in prison and later brought to Onitsha. Others are destitute persons.
For Marianna Asonye, a native of Eziama, Orlu council area of Imo State, life is a mixture of sanity and insanity. She was busy reading Holy Bible aloud when our reporter visited. She could not, however, account for her three children, who she claimed are currently residing in London. Marianna, who is in her late 30s, said she went to Lagos after her education in search of greener pastures, but was afflicted by madness. According to her, she was immediately admitted in the Lagos State Rehabilitation and Social Welfare Centre in 1999 till the day she escaped.
She narrated her story: “My name is Marianna Asonye, I hail from Eziama village, Orlu council area of Imo State, I stopped at Class 3 in Nifor Secondary School in the present Edo State in 1983 and in 1987. I went to Holy Bible Acknowledgement and after that I went to Lagos. Then in 1999, I was admitted in the Lagos State Rehabilitation and Social Welfare Centre. I was there and during riot, rioters forced the home open and I escaped together with other inmates.
I have four children and three of them are living in London, a boy and two girls.” Obinna Efobi, 36, from Ogidiana, in Idemili North council area, Anambra State, left Anambra State for Lagos in 2005. He was clamped into prison for being homeless. According to him, he was picked where he was sleeping in the open and taken to prison, where he stayed for more than two years. “I am Obinna Efobi. I am 36 years old and I hail from Ogidiana, in Ogidi community, Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State. We were brought here from Lagos.
I travelled to Lagos in 2005 for survival. I was living in a make-shift house, which was later burnt by angry youths during a riot. I was a barrow pusher, but one day, rioters destroyed our houses and everything inside. We became homeless and some of us started sleeping under the bridges until one day, when the police arrested me. “I was detained in prison for more than two years until last week when they brought us out. We were 1, 500 in number. They grouped us according to our geopolitical zones. Those of us from South East were put in nine buses and brought to Onitsha. When they crossed Onitsha Bridgehead, two buses dropped some of us.
The other buses continued to Upper Iweka, where they offloaded the rest. “It was while we were there that security men came and evacuated us and brought us here. I have been making efforts to get my people. The first person I sent did not come back. I sent another person, who called my sister. My sister came here and told me that my parents had died. “When I left for Lagos, my parents were all alive, though my father was bedridden.
He was suffering from stroke. My mother was our bread winner and that was why I left for Lagos to know if I could meet up and it turned out like this.” When asked if he could still recognise his home in Ogidiani and how they were being taken care of by the Anambra State government, he said: “I will still recognise my home in Ogidiana if I am asked to go home.
They are feeding us three times a day, but I want to ask the state government to help me because as it stands now, my mother, who was my last hope, is no more and I am like a hopeless man now. Another thing is that when I was inside the prison, I noticed that my eyes were having problem. I started having something that closes my eyes each day and if you look inside my eyes, you will see some spots and my left eye is not working again.
As we are talking, am not using the left eye to see. I am not even seeing you as you are standing. All these things were what I met in Lagos.” Mr. Edward Adeniyi is from Lagos State, but among those taken to Onitsha. He told Saturday Sun: “I am Mr. Edward Adeniyi from Western Avenue (Ojuelegba), Lagos. I am a Loto agent until I was arrested and sent to the prison after which I found myself in Onitsha, in the East. I was arrested in May, around Mile 2. I was coming from Maza Maza, where I went to sell Loto printout.
I was working with Premier Loto.” Osondu Agwu, from Ebonyi State told Saturday Sun: “I am from Ohaozara Local Government Area of Ebonyi State. I lived in Lagos because that was where I have been living since. I was doing business before my business crashed; what happened was that some time in March this year, on Saturday to be precise, I was walking down the Ijora bridge.
I saw a vehicle parked on top of the bridge. When I got closer to the vehicle, I saw some group of persons. They called for my attention and I gave them attention. They asked me to enter the bus and I asked why I should do so. They bundled me into the vehicle. There were two mobile policemen with rifles. “When we were going, I thought they were taking me to a police station. They drove all the way to Ikorodu, into a compound and ordered us to come down.
They searched us and removed everything in our pockets and marched us into a hall.” Uduaka Asuquo from Akwa Ibom State said she was, until her arrest, a commuter operator and office assistant in Ikoyi, Lagos. According to her: “I was arrested and taken to a place I did not know and I could not contact any of my family members. I was a computer operator in Ikoyi, Lagos and one day, I went out to buy something in my street. It was on environmental sanitation day. I saw a vehicle parked.
The officers bundled me into the vehicle and drove away. They took me to Ikorodu. They dumped me where they kept mad people and beggars and after that, they arranged 16 vehicles that brought us down here. My village is Isenyon, but my parents are living at Ikot Abasi in Akwa Ibom State.” Mr. Francis Agwu from Ebonyi State also told a pathetic story: “I live at No 1 Ogbudunmi Iwaya Close, Lagos.
I was just living there until one Sunday. I went to buy something in my street when I was arrested. All the people I sent messages to after I was arrested didn’t respond and I found myself here in Onitsha. I want the government to help me and send me back to Lagos because my room is still locked as we are talking.”
…Tales of ‘deportations’
The current controversy between Lagos and Anambra state governments over the dumping of some persons removed from the streets of Lagos in Onitsha may be coming as a rude shock to the latter, but this will not surprise government officials in Ogun, Oyo, Kaduna and Kano, as they had equally been made to swallow a similar bitter pills in the past.
Records show that the foundation for the deportation of unwanted non-indigenes from Lagos was laid in 2003 when the state began an aggressive policy of ridding the streets of persons tagged as beggars, destitute persons, insane and the like, as a means of enhancing the aesthetics of the environment and security. Ogun and Oyo states were the first to have a taste of this policy then. Since then, it has become an annual ritual for the Lagos State government to send persons labelled under any of these categories to the next designated state within the country. Besides, the number of deportees keeps increasing year in, year out. The figure, however, hit an alarming rate in 2009 when the state government deported about 160 persons tagged destitute persons from the northern part of the country.
They were dumped on the outskirts of the Kaduna metropolis. Like in the previous attempts, the northern deportees were secretly dumped at around 7pm at Abuja Junction, along the Kaduna-Abuja expressway, close to the Federal Cooperative College, Kaduna. The group included men, women and children, mostly crippled, deaf, blind, lepers and others with serious disabilities. The Kaduna State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development then, Dr. Maryamu Laka Madami, had disclosed that the state government was making arrangements to transport them to Kano and other northern states they were originally from. The Kaduna State government only mulled an action against the Lagos State government but that appeared to be the end of the controversy then. In 2010, it was again the turn of Ogun State to receive another batch of deportees from Lagos. Officials of the Ogun State government had protested then that it was embarrassing and unfortunate that Lagos State government officials took about 70 destitute persons from the streets of Lagos and dumped them in Abeokuta on May 11 of the same year without finding out their states of origin.
The destitute persons were said to have been taken in six buses, around 2.30am and were dumped at Ita Oshin end of Abeokuta North Local Government Area. The chairman of the local government, Alhaji Abeeb Ajayi, who received them, had expressed sadness at the development. Some of the destitute persons were said to have been picked up from the streets, kept in the rehabilitation camp in Majidun, Lagos, for some months before they were transferred to the Ogun State capital. While most of them admitted that they were from Ogun State, a sizable number of them claimed they were from Ondo, Bayelsa and Rivers states.
A livid Ogun State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development then, Mrs. Tomi Soboyejo, was reported to have said: “It is unacceptable for Lagos to continue to dump destitute persons here; it is unfortunate. This is the third time this type of incident will happen; the second time they brought over 100 destitute persons. “The first time, they brought 40 of them and dumped them on the premises of the State High Court, Isabo. How do you justify this? Ogun State is the only neighbour of Lagos; the other is just the Atlantic Ocean.
If they have not dumped these people here, they might have dumped them in the Atlantic Ocean.” Records also show that in 2011 alone, over 3,105 beggars and lunatics were deported to their states of origin by the Lagos State government with Oyo State government having the largest share of the figure. This was said to have angered the then government of Oyo State, Adebayo Alao-Akala, but the protestation also fizzled out like those in the past. Source