Deportation: Group heads for court

Posted by News Express | 8 August 2013 | 3,319 times

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A Lagos-based rights group, the Due Process Advocates (DPA), is heading for court in a bid to stop the deportation of Nigerian citizens from states where they choose to reside to their states of origin. DPA also intends to seek redress for those already subjected to what it described as a shameful practice and the flagrant abuse of citizen rights as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution.  

Speaking on the forthcoming suit, DPA Founder/Principal Administrator, Emeka Ugwuonye, Esquire, said he has been holding meetings with the lawyers working with him “in planning the best way to enforce the constitutional rights of the Nigerian citizens who were recently expelled from Lagos by the Government of Lagos State” as well as in preventing future deportations by any of the country’s 36 states. According to Ugwuonye in a statement in Lagos made available to News Express by e-mail:

“We view what happened as a gross violation of the rights of Nigerian citizens irrespective of any ethnic undertones to that event. Our goal is simply to enforce the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the relevant regional and international laws on rights.

“We welcome the outrage which these expulsions have generated. At the same time, my colleagues and I are greatly distressed by the growing tendency by various groupings to interpret what happened strictly from ethnic point of view and the infectious fever of ethnic politics. Such an approach is no doubt a defeat of reason and commonsense. Nigerians must resist the urge to disunite or fractionate on something as vital and basic as the rights of the common man. Nigerians must not allow the practitioners of the politics of divide-and-rule to enlist them in the parochial conflict of ethnicity and incitement.

“The average Nigerian has suffered a lot of persecution and abuse of rights over the years. He has suffered acts of deliberate impoverishment in the hands of his leaders. He has suffered disdevelopment, backwardness and all forms of deprivations, while at the same time his leaders have lived in provocative affluence funded by their fat security votes. And to worsen this already terrible situation, the poorest of the poor among us could now be hunted down from pillar to post and rounded up like criminals, and detained for months, and then subjected to the shameless acts of expulsion from one part of Nigeria to another. This is the time really to try to use the law to protect these victims, as is the true intention of the constitution.

“What happened in Lagos, while remarkable in some respects, has not been unique to Lagos State. Other State Governments have engaged in similar or comparable patterns of unlawful exclusion of Nigerian citizens from their territories for one reason or the other. Akwa Ibom did it. Abia State did it. And the remaining states are planning to do it in the belief that once people from their states have been forced back to hem, they owed it a duty to carry out a reciprocal expulsion of indigenes from the other states. In such a manner, various subdivisions of the Nigerian polity, down to local governments, are being guided by the same despicable principles to exclude Nigerians from their territories.

“It is particularly shameful that these acts of unlawful exclusions have been going on in this country in the past years to the knowledge of the Federal Government, and yet there has been no effort from the Federal Government, particularly from the office of the Attorney General of the Federation, to protect the rights of the individuals against the abusive behaviour of some state governments. We believe that the Federal Government has a duty to act to protect the individual in such circumstance. We believe that failure to perform such duties constitutes an active violation of rights of the victims, thus rendering such failures an actionable wrong.

“With such a pervasive failure of all the governments of Nigeria as regards the rights of the individual, my group is now considering the probability of extending the planned lawsuit to the 36 state governments and the Federal Government of Nigeria. In view of the fact that what happened recently in Lagos has happened elsewhere and are being planned in other states, any meaningful legal response to this problem should be aimed at all those responsible for it or who are planning more of it in the future. For these reasons, our lawsuit shall now be aimed at all the State Governments and the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“For those who may not be familiar with the scheme of rights under our Constitution, it is the intention of the Constitution to carve out a sphere of influence for the individual where he would be the master of his own destiny, and into which the Government must not encroach. Human rights provisions are indeed a restraint on Government powers. Governments cannot take away those rights regardless of how good the intentions are or how well meaning the Government officials are. In enforcing the rights of the individual who, in this instance, has been unlawfully designated a non-indigene, we are seeking to re-establish the supremacy of the Constitution and the principles of limited government.”

Photo shows some of those recently deported to Onitsha by the Lagos Satte Government.


Source: News Express

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