Lagos Deportation: Anambra govt failed to assume responsibility for repatriated destitute
The Anambra Government, which has been raising dust over alleged deportation of its indigenes, failed to honour the invitation of its Lagos state counterpart to visit and identify the destitute people at their rehabilitation centre at the Majidun Rehabilitation Centre in the Ikorodu area of Lagos.
Lagos has admitted relocating 14 destitute people to Onitsha on July 24, as part of its effort of ridding the state of beggars and destitute people.
The state claimed it took the action to reunite the destitute people, who had no family members in Lagos, with their relatives in Anambra state.
But the Anambra state government has condemned the action, describing it as a violation of human rights of the affected evictees.
However, a series of correspondences between both states, made public by the Lagos State government, showed that Anambra State failed to assume its own responsibility when the destitute people were being rehabilitated.
In a letter dated 9th April, 2013, and addressed to the Anambra State Liaison Officer in Victoria Island, Lagos; the Lagos government solicited the assistance of Anambra to visit and help screen the 14 destitute people.
“I am to inform you that fourteen (14) persons who claimed to be indigenes of your state are currently in our centre awaiting your response towards evacuation and integration with their families, back in Anambra State,” read the letter signed by O. T Ajao, Special Adviser, Office of Youth and Social Development.
In its 15th April, 2013, response, Anambra State requested the particulars of the 14 alleged indigenes of the state to enable it “make proper enquiry as to finding out their true origin.”
“The above request is of urgent importance, to facilitate their integration with their families if they are from Anambra,” the letter signed by Chukwudum Ucheoma, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor, read.
On 29 April, 2013, Lagos State responded, forwarding the particulars of the 14 indigenes, and further requesting the presence of Anambra State officials at its Rehabilitation and Training Centre in Ikorodu, to conduct a physical identification through interaction with them.
There was no further response from Anambra State, according to the correspondences.
“Unfortunately, inspite of our request to the Anambra government officials to come and validate and identify these people who claimed to be from Anambra which was what our social workers were told, the Anambra government agency did not respond,” Lagos Governor, Babatunde Fashola, said in a statement.
The Anambra state government is yet to respond to the disclosures by its Lagos counterpart.
It is also not clear why the state failed to visit the destitute people and come to their aid during their rehabilitation.
The way Anambra treated its own indigenes at the centre of the “deportation” saga is in sharp contrast with how Lagos acted when Akwa Ibom evicted two Lagos “indigenes” recently.
A letter made available to newsmen, showed that a few days before Lagos carried out the controversial transfer, some Lagos indigenes were also sent back to Lagos, from Akwa Ibom State.
In the letter addressed to the Lagos State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, the Akwa Ibom State government stated that the repatriation of lunatics, beggars, and destitute people was to rid Uyo of lunatics.
“The underlisted persons who are known vagrant psychotics were evacuated, during the clean up exercise to remove lunatics off the streets of Akwa Ibom State,” read the letter, dated 23rd July, 2013.
It went ahead to list Babatunde Obamaiviaya and Tunde Jimmy as the “known vagrant psychotics” who have no relations in Uyo.
“Since then, the patients were hospitalized and duly treated with good responses.
“Following their processes of recovering of sanity, the doctor has placed them on trial leave,” the letter stated.
“However, in view of the fact that they are indigenes of Lagos State and have no relations in Uyo, we have decided to refer them to you for medical management/treatment and necessary action, please,” the letter added.
In a July 26 response, Lagos informed Akwa Ibom that after interviewing the two evictees, it came to the conclusion that they were not indigenes of the state.
“However, out of compassion for your social worker and the unfortunate young men,our management, out of magnanimity and best practices, decided to take over their cases for further rehabilitation and tracing of their relations since we observed they are likely to have come from any of the South Western states of the country,” the Lagos state Government said.
“Be that as it may, we are compelled to advise you, in case of another time, to explore the possibility of reaching out to us first for screening of affected persons to ascertain their true origins before sending them to us to avoid rejecting such person (s).”
This issue has been politicized in my opinion. Lagos and Anambra state governments need to meet and let this issue rest once and for all rather than trade words through the media.