Anambra State Governor, Mr. Peter Obi
* Lagos clarifies action
By Gboyega Akinsanmi
Anambra State Governor, Mr. Peter Obi, has urged President Goodluck Jonathan to intervene in the brewing face-off between his state and Lagos State Government over the forcible relocation of some Igbos to Anambra State.
Obi, in a letter to the president, the content of which was released to the public Wednesday, warned that if the action of the state government was not checked, other states may emulate it by forcing out non-indigenes from their states.
This, he added, would breed anarchy in the country.
Amidst the growing criticism over the action, the state government also Wednesday clarified the forcible relocation of some Igbos, who were dumped in Anambra State, saying the action was meant to bring those affected, majority of whom were destitute persons, closer to their family members.
Obi in the letter to the president, titled: “Unconstitutional, Illegal and Forced Deportation of Nigerians to Anambra State from Lagos State,” wrote: “I wish to respectfully bring to your due attention a very disturbing development that has vast national security and political implications.
“Last September and again on 24 July 2013, the Lagos State Government contrived inexplicable reasons to round up Nigerians, whom they alleged were Anambra indigenes (most of whom the State Security Service (SSS) report shows clearly were not from Anambra State) and forcibly deported them to Anambra State, dumping them as it were in the commercial city of Onitsha.
“This latest callous act, in which Lagos State Government did not even bother to consult with Anambra State authorities, before deporting 72 persons considered to be of Igbo extraction to Anambra State, is illegal, unconstitutional and a blatant violation of the human rights of these individuals and of the Nigerian constitution.
“Your Excellency, no amount of offence committed by these people, even if deemed extremely criminal, would justify or warrant such a cruel action by a state authority and in a democracy. Even refugees are protected by the law.
“Sir, forced deportation such as this, which Lagos State seems to be making a norm in addressing its domestic challenges, are egregious, and calls into question the validity of Nigeria and its federating components. Such acts violate human decency, the rule of law and constitutionally ordered liberties. Were Anambra and other states in the federation to resort to such extreme measures, there would be total anarchy.”
But the Lagos State Government has debunked the allegation that it forced out some Igbos out of the state.
After the state security meeting Wednesday, the government said those relocated were those rehabilitated and were taken out of the state to be resettled.
The state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Umar Manko, told journalists that the state, government rehabilitated and resettled some Nigerians from other states who came into the state and turned into destitute persons.
He said after the state government “revived and reformed them, they indicated their interest of going back to their home town to be resettled. That was what happened. There was not any deportation.”
On other security issues, Manko reassured the residents of the state that the security of the state “is perfect. The security operatives are on top of their jobs. And the residents should go about their lawful businesses.”