Deportation:ESRI Demands N500 Billion Compensation For Igbo Victims



fasholaPan-Igbo pressure group, the Enugu State Roots Initiative (ESRI) over the weekend, demanded immediate payment of N500 billion compensation to the people deported to the River Niger Bridge by the Lagos State Government.

Apart from paying the monetary compensation, the body also asked the state government to provide them with befitting housing accommodation and publicly apologize for denigrating their personal liberty and smearing the sanctity of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

They also called on Ohaneze Ndi-Igbo, South East Governors Forum, South East caucus in the National Assembly and Igbo professionals and other groups, to speak up in condemnation of the act.

In a statement signed by the National President of the body, Barrister Joni Icheka; Secretary, Mr. Uche Nwegbo and Treasurer, Barrister Emma Nwodo, ESRI maintained that the deportation negates sections 21 (1), 22 (1) and 15 (3) of the Constitution.

They also condemned the Lagos state government for sealing off the property of the former Abia State Governor, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu and frowned at the statements credited to the former Aviation Minister, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, saying such statements were capable of bringing about ethnic hatred and a break-down of law and order.

“ESRI therefore, demands an immediate payment of the sum of N500 billion compensation to these ill-treated Nigerians, whom the Lagos state government said were Ndi Anambra.

“Apart from paying them the compensation, the state government should also immediately provide them with befitting housing accommodation and publicly apologize for denigrating their personal liberty and smearing the sanctity of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“If the Lagos State Government and their Governor fail to do these things within one month, we will be left with no option than to conclude that it was done with clear negative mind-set and vendetta and we would be left with no option than to take appropriate legal action,” the statement stated.

Pointing out that deporting any Nigerian from one part of the country to another negates the constitution of the country, the group described the action as ill-advised and that it exposed the victims to danger and extreme raining season weather.

Said the body: “The Enugu Roots Initiative (ESRI), having watched with studied silence and dismay, the abracadabra and public reactions to the development is compelled to state that Section 41 (1) of the Nigerian Constitution states that: “Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof, and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereby or exit therefrom”.

“Similarly, Section 42 (1) states that: “A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person:-
(a) be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions are not made subject; or
(b) be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions.

“Also, the same Constitution in Section 15 (3) stated clearly that: “For the purpose of promoting national integration, it shall be the duty of the state to: ‘(a) provide adequate facilities for and encourage free mobility of people, goods and services throughout the federation; (b) secure full residence rights for every citizen in all parts of the federation.

“The ‘state’ referred to in this section of the constitution is the entire country, Nigeria which includes Lagos and Anambra states. There is no exception to these constitutional injunctions”.

They claimed that the deportees were taken out of Lagos “due primarily to their presumed socio-economic status, religion or tribe, or for whatever reason, could be dubbed as “undesirable elements” in any part of the country and could be so cruelly and inhumanly treated.

“It should be pointed out that the only offence these people committed, according to the Lagos State Government, was that they were “poor”: no more, no less.

“The second offence they may have committed was that they were presumed to be Igbo people, and so, should not be seen begging for arms or engage in any considered “menial activity” in Lagos State.

“But, the questions should be asked: “Does it mean that all Lagos State indigenes resident in every part of the country, especially in Lagos State, are fully and officially employed?

“Do we have persons of the category referred to as destitute Anambra indigenes from other parts of the country that could still be found on the streets of Lagos State even now”?

Insisting that the “Area Boys” who parade the streets of Lagos are worse than the deportees, ESRI said such people are the ones who require urgent rehabilitation since they are indigenes of Lagos State.

Condemning the seal-up of the property of former Governor Orji Uzor Kalu of Abia state, they said the deportation “is even more provocative when one puts into perspective that notable Igbo personalities, like the former Abia State Governor, Dr. Orji Uzo Kalu, who spoke against this despicable deportation in his weekly Leadership Column in the Sun Newspaper, was equally visited with this selective amnesia. His constitutional and rightful liberty to his property was curtailed for several hours by the goons of the Lagos State Government.

“Otherwise, why should the state government surreptitiously rekindle what happened in the 50s and 60s when Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was denied leadership of the Western House of Assembly simply because he was born by parents from the same axis like the people the Lagos State Government ‘deported’?

“It was this same self-righteousness and hatred for Ndi-Igbo that led to the forceful removal of the first Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Professor Eni Njoku in 1965 through acts of “fire-by-force” orchestrated by the defunct Western Regional Government.

“ESRI calls on the Ohaneze Ndigbo, the South East Governors Forum and other notable groups of Igbo extraction, to rise up immediately in condemnation of this inhuman act.

“Similarly, the South East caucus in the National Assembly as well as Igbo professionals, should condemn Lagos State and ‘their Fashola’,” the group stated.

FULL TEXT
DEPORTATION: ESRI DEMANDS N500 BILLION COMPENSATION FOR VICTIMS
***call on Ohaneze Ndigbo, SE Govs, Legislators to react

ANOTHER ugly chapter has opened on the plight of Ndi-Igbo in Nigeria. It was the unfortunate ‘deportation’ of some persons said to be indigenes of Anambra state by the Lagos state government. These people were forcefully relocated from Lagos to Onitsha in a chartered and heavily-guarded vehicle and dumped at the Onitsha Bridge Head section of the River Niger in the early hours of the morning of July 24, 2013.

At the moment, there is controversy on the exact number of the affected persons. While the Anambra state government claimed the number was 72, Lagos state government claimed they were “a paltry 14 rehabilitated destitutes”. While this uncanny politics is being played with the lives of claimed Ndi-Igbo, nay Nigerians, we make bold to state that nothing can be more dangerous than toying with the sanctity of human lives, no matter the cloak it is given (tribe, religious, social-status, etc).

The Enugu Roots Initiative (ESRI), having watched with studied silence and dismay, the abracadabra and public reactions to the development is compelled to state that Section 41 (1) of the Nigerian Constitution states that: “Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof, and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereby or exit therefrom”. Similarly, Section 42 (1) states that: “A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person:-
(a) be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions are not made subject; or
(b) be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions”.

Also, the same Constitution in Section 15 (3) stated clearly that: “For the purpose of promoting national integration, it shall be the duty of the state to: ‘(a) provide adequate facilities for and encourage free mobility of people, goods and services throughout the federation; (b) secure full residence rights for every citizen in all parts of the federation”. The “state” referred to in this section of the constitution is the entire country, Nigeria which includes Lagos and Anambra states. There is no exception to these constitutional injunctions.

Sadly, rather than face the facts as they were and condemn the act or take concrete steps at correcting this anomaly, Governors Raji Fashola of Lagos State and some ethnic jingoists chose to be economical with the truth on what actually transpired and have been filibustering. Their choice of language and actions at addressing this ugly unconstitutional/inhuman development goes to the very root of denigrating human life and splashes odious black paint on Ndi-Igbo in particular.

Interestingly, Governor Fashola did not deny that he ‘deported’ some persons he believed were Ndi-Igbo resident in Lagos. After his attention was drawn to violating the constitution he said: “It is unfortunate that my colleague Governor Peter Obi made this a media issue. As I speak, I haven’t received any telephone call or letter from him or complaint. And I don’t think that is the way government works. On less important matters like this, he had called me before”.

He further claimed that the people he ‘deported’ were destitutes who have been ‘rehabilitated’ by his government. He also added that before he ‘deported’ them, he had contacted the Anambra state governor on the presence of these destitutes in Lagos state and the plan by the Lagos state government to ‘deport’ them. He added that Governor Obi had requested for the full identity of the affected persons if really they were from Anambra state to enable the state government contact the families of the people involved and make necessary arrangements.

It has become obvious that this so called communication between the Lagos and the Anambra state governments broke down irretrievably leading to their being dumped at the River Niger Bridge Head in the cold weather of the morning and probably while the rains were falling. Although we do not want to join issues with the irascible, ill-mannered, uncouth, sarcastic and infantile verbiage that emanated from the enfant terrible, Femi Fani-Kayode, the former Aviation Minister, we must state that he is suffering from psychic schizophrenic amnesia and his infamous diarrhea of the mouth. We would rather ask God to have mercy on him and forgive him his notorious ill-manners.

Without going into the implications of the earlier quoted sections 41 (1); 42 (1) and 15 (3) of the Constitution which obviously supersedes any other legislation, it is unfortunate to state without equivocation that some Nigerians, due primarily to their presumed socio-economic status, religion or tribe, or for whatever reason, could be dubbed as “undesirable elements” in any part of the country and could be so cruelly and inhumanly treated. It should be pointed out that the only offence these people committed, according to the Lagos State Government, was that they were “poor”: no more, no less. The second offence they may have committed was that they were presumed to be Igbo people, and so, should not be seen begging for arms or engage in any considered “menial activity” in Lagos State.

But, the questions should be asked: “Does it mean that all Lagos State indigenes resident in every part of the country, especially in Lagos State, are fully and officially employed? Do we have persons of the category referred to as destitute Anambra indigenes from other parts of the country that could still be found on the streets of Lagos State even now?

It is important for the Lagos State Government to immediately provide answers to these questions because the Enugu Roots Initiative (ESRI) is aware that virtually all street corners in Lagos State populates more number of street baggers than any other street in any other state in the country. In Lagos State, they are called “Alaye” or ‘Area Boys’. These local street urchins apart from roaming about aimlessly in their dirty/smelly clothing, openly carry out criminal activities to the knowledge of the Lagos State Government. They extort money from innocent passers-by and businessmen/women, engage in armed robbery and sundry theft/burglary, maim, kill, peddle and consume illicit and hard drugs. But, because they are not categorized as having come from Igbo land or branded as indigenes of Anambra state, the Lagos State Government chose to look the other way and pretended as if they posed no problem to the society. In fact, there are far more number of destitutes who are from Laogs state than all the Igbo-speaking states put together.

If Governor Fashola and his government are actually interested in rehabilitating anybody, one wonders why they started with outsiders, the so-called Anambra indigenes. Was it out of love for Ndig-Igbo or what? One would have thought that since charity begins at home, they should have commenced with rehabilitating the armada of destitute Lagosians. What the state government did was akin to refusing to dislodge the huge log of wood in one’s eyes but rather, ironically, preferred to remove the speck in somebody else’s eyes.

That is why the “sanctimonious act” of the state government and their goons defies any logic. It is even more provocative when one puts into perspective that notable Igbo personalities, like the former Abia State Governor, Dr. Orji Uzo Kalu, who spoke against this despicable deportation in his weekly Leadership Column in the Sun Newspaper, was equally visited with this selective amnesia. His constitutional and rightful liberty to his property was curtailed for several hours by the goons of the Lagos State Government. Transferring this street madness to this former governor defies logic and portrays the Lagos State Government and its leadership as maddening dogs that could be up to something more sinister in the future.

Otherwise, why should the state government surreptitiously rekindle what happened in the 50s and 60s when Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was denied leadership of the Western House of Assembly simply because he was born by parents from the same axis like the people the Lagos State Government ‘deported’? It was this same self-righteousness and hatred for Ndi-Igbo that led to the forceful removal of the first Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Professor Eni Njoku in 1965 through acts of “fire-by-force” orchestrated by the defunct Western Regional Government.

ESRI therefore, demands an immediate payment of the sum of N500 billion compensation to these ill-treated Nigerians, whom the Lagos state government said were Ndi Anambra. Apart from paying them the compensation, the state government should also immediately provide them with befitting housing accommodation and publicly apologize for denigrating their personal liberty and smearing the sanctity of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. If the Lagos State Government and their Governor fails to do these things within one month, we will be left with no option than to conclude that it was done with clear negative mind-set and vendetta and we would be left with no option than to take appropriate legal action.

Certainly, Lagos State Government and their Governor, Raji Fashola had no reason whatsoever ‘deporting’ these people and dumping them near the river bank in the despicable manner they did, thus, leaving them to the mercy of the rainy cold weather and other natural uncertainties if truly they really meant to rehabilitate them.

ESRI calls on the Ohaneze Ndigbo, the South East Governors Forum and other notable groups of Igbo extraction, to rise up immediately in condemnation of this inhuman act. Similarly, the South East caucus in the National Assembly as well as Igbo professionals, should condemn Lagos State and ‘their Fashola’.

There is no gain saying the fact that an elder does not sit by idly and watch the goat deliver in the teeters. Also, the river that eventually would drown someone down the river, normally would have a source that could hardly cover up to the base of the feet. If this level of anomie against Ndi-Igbo is left unchallenged, then, we would dangerously be exposing Ndi-Igbo to danger and to become easy object of attack in other parts of the country. Ndi-Igbo would become vulnerable and who knows, the consequences could be worse than the pre-civil war pogrom. God forbid!

Relocating Nigerian citizens from one part of the country to another place and dumping them across the river under the guise of “integrating” them with their families, certainly, does not promote integration, peace, love, mutual respect and nationalism, especially, as envisaged in the constitution.
SIGNED
BARR. JONI ICHEKA UCHE NWEGBO BARR. EMMA NWODO
PRESIDENT SECRETARY TREASURER
END

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