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Tony Iribor: Is Lagos now a country?

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Tony Iribor: Is Lagos now a country?

by Tony Iribor

Early last week, I heard and read the news of the “deportation” by the Lagos government of certain Nigerians who are non indigenes of Lagos state. I read that they were picked up and taken out of Lagos at night and dropped off at Onitsha in Anambra State. Words like ‘destitute persons’ and ‘beggars’ were used to describe these “deportees”. I kept waiting for the Lagos state government to make an official statement in this regard. At least, deny the incident or accept and give reasons why this was done.

The first statement I came across was from the Action Congress of Nigeria. According to the party’s publicity secretary in Lagos state, Mr. Joe Igbokwe, “the Lagos state government‘s action would go a long way to reduce crime in the state”. He added that the state government had long embarked on the decision to pick up many derelicts, the homeless, beggars and social miscreants that inhabit all parts of Lagos. He said the state government cleans them up, finds means of livelihood for those that are employable and sends those it cannot manage to their respective states.

Days later, I read statements credited to the state governor, Babatunde Fashola. According to the governor, the state government rescued indigenes of various states from the streets, rehabilitated them and then wrote each state affected to ascertain their status to fast-track the process of resettling all affected destitute. He said that states like Oyo and Katsina came to carry “their people”, but the Anambra state government through its liaison office in Lagos failed to reply the letters sent to them regarding the resettlement of their indigenes. He mentioned a similar situation when the Lagos state government had to pick up its indigenes from Akwa Ibom state. So as result of the failure of the Anambra state government to respond, they decided to move the deportees to Onitsha.

I am really not interested in all the politicizing and the ethnic angles been thrown around about this issue. I only have some questions to ask, but before I do, let me state a few things.

First of all, the word “deport” isn’t right if you ask me. From the dictionary, to deport means to “legally remove or expel a person from a country” or “to evict a person, especially from a country”. So how then is it possible to deport people within a country, especially since they are citizens of the said country? I heard some say that this act has been going on within the country and the Lagos state government is not the first to carry it out. I agree, but does that make it right or legal? Should we keep quiet about it because others have been doing this? Also, when I saw statements like, “Oyo came and carried their people” credited to the state governor, I felt bad. The phrase “their people” didn’t just go well with me. Their people? Really? We now refer to Nigerians from other states as “their people?” maybe he meant it in a different way.

Well, here are the questions I have been asking and I continue to ask:

  • What qualifies one who resides in Lagos state to be called a destitute?
  • On what basis were these deportees classified as destitute?
  • If they were picked up from the streets, did they pick street traders who hawk in traffic as well?
  • How were they picked, by KAI officials in those black trucks used for criminals?
  • The Lagos state government claimed to have rehabilitated them, what form of rehabilitation and where was this done?
  • How were these deportees transported to Onitsha?
  • Since the Anambra state government didn’t respond, who were they handed to at Onitsha or were they dumped on the streets?
  • How are we sure the deportees have not returned?
  • Is it legal, according to our constitution to deport citizens from their state of residence?
  • Lastly, since deportation is to legally remove, evict or expel someone from a country, would it be safe to say that Lagos is now a country and we, the residents may soon require Lagos passports?

That’s all.

– Follow this writer on Twitter: @tonypox

IS LAGOS NOW A COUNTRY?

Early last week, I heard and read the news of the “deportation” of certain Nigerians who are non indigenes of Lagos state from the state. I read that they were picked up and taken out of Lagos at night and dropped at Onitsha in Anambra State. Words like ‘destitutes’ and ‘beggars’ was used to describe these “deportees”. I kept waiting for the Lagos state government to make an official statement in this regard. At least, deny the incident or accept and give reasons why this was done.

The first statement I came across was from the Action Congress of Nigeria. According to the party’s public secretary, Mr. Joe Igbokwe, “the Lagos state government‘s action would go a long way to reduce crime in the state”. He added that the state government had long embarked on the decision to pick up many derelicts, the homeless, beggars and social miscreants that inhabit all parts of Lagos. He said thestate government cleans them up, finds means of livelihood for those that are employable and sends those it cannot manage to their respective states. Days later, I read statements credited to the state governor, Babatunde Fashola. According to the governor, He said that the state government rescued indigenes of various states from the streets, rehabilitated them and then wrote each state affected to ascertain their status to fast-track the process of resettling all affected destitute. He said that states like Oyo and Katsina came to carry “their people”, but the Anambra state government through its liaison office in Lagos failed to reply the letters sent to them regarding the resettlement of their indigenes. He mentioned a similar situation when the Lagos state government had to pick up its indigenes from Akwa Ibom state. So as result of the failure of the Anambra state government to respond, they decided to move these deportees to Onitsha.

I am really not interested in all the politicizing and the ethnic angles been thrown around about this issue. I only have some questions to ask, but before I do, let me state a few things. First of all, the word “deport” isn’t right if you ask me. From the dictionary, to deport means to “legally remove or expel a person from a country” or “to evict a person, especially from a country”. So how then is it possible to deport people within a country, especially since they are citizens of the said country? I heard some say that this act has been going on within the country and the Lagos state government is the first to carry it out. I agree, but does that make it right or legal? Should we keep quiet about it because others have been doing this? Also, when I saw statements like, “Oyo came and carried their people” credited to the state governor, I felt bad. The phrase “their people” didn’t just go well with me. Their people? Really? We now refer to Nigerians from other states as “their people?” maybe he meant it in a different way.

Well, here are the questions I have been asking and I continue to ask:

·         What qualifies one who resides in Lagos state to be called a destitute?

·         On what basis were these deportees classified as destitute?

·         If they were picked up from the streets, did they pick street traders who hawk in traffic as well?

·         How were they picked, by KAI officials in those black trucks used for criminals?

·         The Lagos state government claimed to have rehabilitated them, what form of rehabilitation and where was this done?

·         How were these deportees transported to Onitsha?

·         Since the Anambra state government didn’t respond, who were they handed to at Onitsha or were they dumped on the streets?

·         How are we sure the deportees have not returned?

·         Is it legal, according to our constitution to deport citizens from their state of residence?

·         Lastly, since deportation is to legally remove, evict or expel someone from a country, would it be safe to say that Lagos is now a country and we, the residents may soon require Lagos passports?

Tony Iribor.

 

 

 

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