Deportation: Group Demands N500 Billion Compensation For Victims
Pan-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 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,' 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.