Posted by News Express | 4 August 2013 | 2,906 times
The Lagos State Government has been told to “immediately recall all the people expelled from the state under controversial circumstances and immediately compensate them by providing them decent places of abode within Lagos State.”
The demand was made yesterday by the South East Revival Group (SERG) via a statement issued by its Coordinator General, Chief Willy Ezugwu.
SERG said the action of the Fashola administration “has set a bad precedent that must be immediately reversed to forestall the breakup of Nigeria along ethno-regional lines.”
It expressed concerns that the deportation of persons originally from the South-East raises a red flag and has now set the basis for questioning the genuine intention of regional frameworks like the Development Agenda of Western Nigeria (DAWN) recently launched by the states in the South-West. It said the recent closure of the Ladipo auto spare parts market must also now be reviewed in a different light to see if Igbo business and people are being unfairly target in what could be the beginning of a pogrom.
SERG said the constitution clearly stated 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.”
According to the group: “the explanation by the Lagos State Government that the people it expelled elected to be so repatriated is not tenable because the shabby way in which they were returned in a cattle trailer in the dead of the night with the maximum security escort did not portray a picture of people who were willingly made to leave Lagos state. It is also unfortunate that the victims of the Lagos State Government were kept in equivalent of concentration camps prior to their expulsion, according to the accounts by some of them. Also, if they were leaving willingly as claimed, the state should have provided them with decent means of transport to relocate within reasonable hours.
“It is worrisome that Lagos state indicated that it regularly does this considering that the action is highly unconstitutional. This thus negates the excuse that it was initially communicating with the Anambra state government prior to its despicable act.
“It is on record that the contemporary Lagos state is built on the sweat and blood of people of south east origins, who now own over 60% of the property in that state-with steady tax remittances. This is in addition to the numerous Igbo owned businesses that constitute the life wire of Lagos state. One begins to wonder then why Lagos state decided to expel those it felt are destitute while keeping the productive ones without qualms. This arrangement means that any Igbo businessman who falls on hard times would similarly be expelled from the state without getting a chance to recoup.”
SERG urged the other governors of South-East states and federal as well as state lawmakers from the south east to throw their weight behind the demands of Anambra state governor, Peter Obi, in demanding justice for the victimised people as “the matter at hand transcends state and party lines.”
The group further urged other states in Nigeria not to shy away from taking on the Lagos state government as its actions could snowball into something beyond the ability of the entire country to handle.
•Photo: Lagos Governor Babatunde Fashola.
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