Lagos State branch of the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) condemns in strong terms the unlawful deportation of poor people, destitute and beggars to other parts of the country by the Babatunde Fashola/ACN/APC government in Lagos State. It is the height of insensitivity and crudity for a government to illegally arrest and detain poor people for months only to be dumped at other parts of the country at odd hours of the day.
The Lagos State Government in 2009 deported about 120 poor Yoruba people to Molete, Ibadan at wee hours and subsequently deported other hundreds of Nigerians of Northern extraction to the North. The latest is the deportation of 70 Ibos who were dumped them at Upper Uweka Bridge in Onitsha. In the same vein, over 2000 of poor nationals of other West African countries such as Senegalese, Malians, Nigeriens etc., were recently illegally arrested, detained and deported under the guise of fighting terrorism by the combined team of Police, Lagos State Task Force on Environmental Offences and Immigration. All this is not only anti-poor and callous but a violation of the fundamental human rights of the deported victims.
The Special Adviser to the Lagos State Government on Youths and Special Development, Dr. Enitan Dolapo Badru said that 1,708 beggars and destitute had been expelled from Lagos to their various states and countries since January 2013. “The end result”, Dr. Enitan stated “is to reunite them back with their families.” How would a responsible government claim to reunite these victims with their families by arresting and detaining them illegally for months and forcefully bundled out of Lagos and dumped in the middle of nowhere?
Joe Igbokwe, The Publicity Secretary, Lagos State chapter of the ACN has the temerity to insult these victims by describing them as people who have no business in Lagos and constitute nuisance. It is the anti-poor policies of Igbokwe’s paymasters that have created the condition for destitution and poverty that made it possible for few people to be stupendously rich in the midst of abundance. Besides, Igbokwe has business in Lagos because he is feeding fat from tax-payers money for praise-singing the Alausa rulers and exploiters.
However, it is not all the victims of this act of illegality that are beggars. For instance, according to Guardian of 28th of July, one of the victims of this mindless attack, Mr. Osondu Mbuto, from Ohaozara in Ebonyi State is a petty trader in Lagos. He told the news reporters that he was arrested on December 18, 2012 by Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) officials for alleged wandering, detained at Ikorodu and finally dumped at about 3am at Onitsha after being escorted by armed anti-riot policemen. In detaining them illegally for several months under dehumanizing condition before dumping them in other states, the Lagos government traumatizes their victims as a warning not to come back to Lagos. This action violates section 41 of the 1999 Constitution wherein every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part.
Lagos under the Fashola /ACN/APC government has become one big prison where the rights of the poor are on a daily basis being trampled upon. Those who are very rich irrespective the part of the world they come from are respected and treated as first class citizens while the poor are daily harassed by the state government. This aside the very crude and undemocratic judicial system wherein poor people who are arrested are subjected to Kangaroo court trial without legal representation or even time to prepare their defense in violation of Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution. The same ACN which pretends to be progressives is enmeshed in absurdity and tyranny not different from what obtains in the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
A responsible government would have invested in rehabilitation and training or retraining of these destitute and poor people in order to make them productive and thereby be beneficial to the society at large. We hold that the ACN/APC government is irresponsible and anti-poor that is why it does not mind wasting the tax payers’ money to hurl poor people from the streets of Lagos and dump them in other states. Fashola government and ACN continue to wallow in the world of illusion and fantasy that things are working well only when there are no destitute and beggars on major streets. How can a country or a state be developed without taking the poor out of poverty? Fashola wants people to believe that Lagos is working amidst growing poverty and neglect of many communities.
The SPN hereby demand that the Lagos State Government must stop this brutal attack on the poor and tender apology and pay adequate compensation to the victims of its act of illegality. We call on trade unions and pro-working people organizations to condemn all anti-poor policies and conducts of Lagos state government and organise activities to resist them.
Chinedu BosahLagos State Protem Chairperson