Deportation of dissidents
By Femi Falana
In 1885 the British colonial regime deported King Jaja of Opobo to a remote island in West Indies where he died in 1889.
His offence was that he had challenged the imperialist control of the coastal trade. In 1941 Comrade Michael Imoudu, President of the Nigerian Union of Railwaymen was deported from Lagos and banished to his hometown, Auchi in the Benin Province as he was considered “a potential threat to public safety.”
He only returned to Lagos in 1945 following the revocation of sections 57-63 of the General Defence Regulation, 1941 under which he had been detained. There were other nationalist agitators and labour leaders who were deported and banished to prevent them from taking part in the struggle against colonialism.
The barbaric practice of deporting Nigerians was resuscitated by the defunct military dictatorship. In particular, the reactionary regimes of Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha resorted to the crude harrassment of political opponents by deportation.
In 1992 the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi SAN, Dr Beko Ransome -Kuti and I were deported from Lagos and detained at Kuje prison for challenging the unending military rule of the Babangida junta. The retired General Zamani Lekwot was deported from Kaduna and detained with us in the prison. The following year we were also repatriated from Lagos and banished to the same prison for leading peaceful rallies in Lagos against the criminal annulment of the June 12 presidential election. In June 1994, the winner of the presidential election, Chief MKO Abiola was deported from Lagos and detained in military custody in Kano, Borno and Abuja.
In 1995, the chairman of the Campaign for Democracy (CD), Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti alerted the world that the secret trial of General Olusegun Obasanjo and others by a Special Military Tribunal had been concluded and that the convicts were being prepared for execution. For leaking such information to the media the human rights leader was tried in Lagos, jailed for life and deported to Katsina prison. The CD vice chairman, Shehu Sanni was arrested in Kaduna, jailed for life in Lagos and banished to Kirikiri maximum prison in Apapa. Four journalists viz: Chris Anyanwu, Kunle Ajibade, Charles Mbah and Charles Obi who were convicted for being accessories after the fact of treason i.e the 1995 phantom coup, were deported from Lagos and kept in separate prisons in the northern states.
In 1996, Chief Fawehinmi SAN was once again deported from Lagos and detained at the Bauchi prison while Femi Aborishade and I were deported from Lagos and held at the Gumel and Mawadashi prisons (in Jigawa State) respectively. Comrade Frank Kokori who was arrested in Lagos was banished to Bama prisons in Borno state for 4 years. General Obasanjo who was convicted in Lagos was deported to Yola prison. His ex-deputy, General Shehu Yaradua was deported from Kaduna, convicted in Lagos and held at various times in Kirikiri, Port Harcourt and Abakaliki prisons .
Like King Jaja both Chief Abiola and General Yar’Adua died in suspicious circumstances while they were in custody. But as deportation of colonial subjects could not be justified even under colonial rule it was carried out pursuant to special regulations. In the same vein, the military dictators engaged in deportation of citizens under the preventive detention decrees and the Prison Act.
Deportation of Poor People:
It is common knowledge that the beautification project of the Babatunde Fashola Administration has led to the deportation of hundreds of the jetsam and the flotsam from Lagos state to their states of origin.
Ban on okada
The elite and the media have been celebrating the ban on “Okada” from the major roads and the removal of traders and area boys from the streets. For understandable reasons, most of the hundreds of thousands of poor people who have been displaced and dislodged in the operation “keep Lagos clean” are of the Yoruba extraction.
In fact, on April 9,2009, when the Lagos State government deported 129 beggars of Oyo state origin and dumped them at Molete in Ibadan the Alao Akala regime alleged that the action was aimed at sabotaging his government. Just last week, some beggars of Osun State origin were also deported by the Lagos State government and dumped at Osogbo.
It is sad to note that most Nigerians never took cognisance of the war being waged by state governments against the poor and disadvantaged citizens in the urban renewal policy until the much publicised case of the 14 beggars of Anambra State origin who were deported in Lagos and dumped in Onitsha about three weeks ago. In fact, it was the condemnation of the deportation by the Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi that drew the attention of the elite to the unfortunate development. However, in defence of its action the Lagos State Government stated that it entered into an agreement with the Anambra State Government through its liaison office in Lagos on the controversial deportation.
Although the Anambra State government has not denied the allegation that it was privy to the deportation of the 14 beggars it is on record that in Decmber 2011 the Peter Obi Administration had deported 29 beggars to their states of origin i.e Akwa Ibom and Ebonyi states. Apart from such official hypocrisy the Peter Obi regime did not deem it fit to protest when the Abia State government purged its civil service of “non-indigenes” in 2012. Many of the victims of the unjust policy who hail from Anambra State were left in the lurch.
In June 2011, the Federal Capital Territory government deported 129 beggars to their respective states of origin. In May 2013, hundreds of beggars were also removed from the streets and expelled from Abuja. Of course, it is common knowledge that the FCT authorities has continued to demolish residential houses without following due process in order to “restore the masterplan of Abuja” which was distorted through corruption and abuse of office. The majority of the victims of such illegal demolitions who are poor have been dislocated and forced out of FCT.
Last week, the Rivers State Government removed 113 Nigerians from the streets of Port Harcourt and deported them to their states of origin. The Akwa Ibom state government has just contacted its Lagos counterpart of the planned deportation of two “mad” Lagosians roaming the streets of Uyo. Many other state governments are busy deporting beggars, mad men and other destitute in the on-going beautification of state capitals. Those who are defending the Igbo beggars out of sheer ethnic irredentism should be advised to examine the socio-economic implications of the anti-people’s urbanisation policy being implemented by the federal and state governments in the overall interests of the masses.
The Illegality of Internal Deportation:
Since deportation has been resuscitated under the current political dispensation it has become pertinent to examine the legal implications of the forceful deportation of a group of citizens on account of their impecunious status. Although street trading and begging have been banned in some states, it is submitted, without any fear of contradiction, that there is no existing law in Nigeria which has empowered the federal and state governments to deport any group of Nigerian citizens to their states of origin.
Accordingly, the forceful removal of beggars from their chosen abode and repatriation to their states of origin are illegal and unconstitutional as they violate the fundamental rights of such citizens enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended. In particular, deportation is an afront to the human rights of the beggars to dignity of their persons (Section 34), personal liberty (Section 35), freedom of movement (Section 41), and right of residence in any part of Nigeria (Section 43).
Furthermore, the deportation of beggars and other poor people by the Federal and State Governments is a repudiation of section 15 of the Constitution which has imposed a duty on the State to promote national integration. Since the political objective of the State imposes a duty on the governments to “secure full residence rights for every citizen in all parts of the Federation” it is illegal to remove poor people from the streets of state capitals without providing them with alternative accommodation. By targetting beggars and the destitute and deporting them to their states of origin the state governments involved are violating Section 42 of the Constitution which has outlawed discrimination on the basis of place of birth or state of origin.
In so far as Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap A9) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 has specifically banned discriminatory treatment on the ground of “social origin, fortune, birth or other status” it is indefensible to subject any group of citizens to harrassment on account of their economic status. An urban renewal policy that has provision for only the rich cannot be justified under Article 13 of the African Charter which provides that every citizen shall have equal access to the public services of the country.
In the celebrated case of the Minister of Internal Affairs v. Alhaji Shugaba Abdulraham Darma (1982) 3 N.C.L.R. 915 the Court of Appeal upheld the verdict of the Borno State High Court which had held that the deportation of the Respondent (Alhaji Shugaba) from Nigeria to Chad by the Federal Government constituted “a violation of his fundamental rights to personal liberty, privacy and freedom to move freely throughout Nigeria.” In the Director, State Security Service v. Olisa Agbakoba (1999) 3 NWLR (PT 595) 314 at 356 the Supreme Court reiterated that “It is not in dispute that the Constitution gives to the Nigerian citizen the right to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof.”
Since deportation has denied the vicctims the fundamental right to move freely and reside in any state of their choice it is illegal and unconstitutional.
Fundamental human rights
It is indubitably clear that the fundamental human rights guaranteed by the Constitution and the African Charter Act are not for the exclusive preserve of the bourgeoisie but for the enjoyment of all Nigerian citizens including beggars and other economically marginalised people. To that extent no state government has the power to deport or enter into agreements to repatriate any group of citizens to their states of origin.
The Socio-economic Challenge of Deportation
It ought to be made clear to the managers of the neo-colonial state that there is no country which promotes social inequality that has successfully outlawed the poor from existence.
This explains why beggars are found in large numbers on the streets of major cities and in the ghettos of the United States of America – the bastion of capitalism. The situation is bound to be worse in the periphery of capitalism like Nigeria where the poverty rate has reached an alarming proportion due to the failure of the State to provide for the welfare and security of the people which is the primary purpose of government.
The Federal and State governments should also be made to realize at all times that beggars are Nigerian citizens who lack money, food and other basic facilities to live decent lives. The authorities should stop stigmatizing and harassing them and other citizens who have been pushed to a state of penury by the gross mismanagement of the economy by a selfish and short sighted ruling class. A nation that complaints of inadequate funds to establish a social security scheme for the majority of the people allowed a cartel of fuel importers to corner $16 billion while oil thieves stole crude oil worth $7 billion on the high seas in 2011 alone.
Yet the influential oil thieves and pirates are walking free on the streets of our state capitals without any official harassment. Others who engage in unprecedented corruption, fraud and other financial and economic crimes have never been deported to their states of origin. It is high time the government was restrained from holding the poor vicariously liable for the crisis of underdevelopment of the country. Therefore, part of the billions of naira being earmarked to build mega cities should be set aside for the rehabilitation of beggars and the destitute.
There is no doubt that Lagos state is put under severe pressure, from time to time, by millions of Nigerians who have been economically displaced in their own states of origin. But unlike its counterparts the Lagos state government has devised effective strategies to compel the rich to pay taxes through their noses. In addition the monthly statutory allocation of the state from the federation account is partly based on its population. In the circumstance, the Lagos state government should take from the rich to service the poor. As in the case of most of the “area boys” who have been productively engaged by the Fashola Administration the Lagos state government should formulate programmes for the rehabilitation and resettlement of beggars and other destitute to make them contribute to the economy of the state.
In his inaugural address on January 20, 1961 the United States President, Mr. J.F. Kennedy warned that “if a free society cannot help the many who are poor it cannot save the few who are rich”. About 40 years later, those cautionary words resonated in the case of Hoffman v. South African Airways (2001) CHR 329 at 354 where Justice Ngcobo of the Constitutional Court of South Africa stated that “Our Constitution protects the weak, the marginalized, the socially outcast and the victims of prejudice and stereotyping. It is only when these groups are protected that we can be secure that our own rights are protected.”
With respect to the implementation of neo-liberal policies that have continued to pauperise our people I am compelled to remind the ruling class in Nigeria of the plea made by the Late Dr. Akinola Aguda in 1985 that “our new perspective in law and justice must be such as to guarantee to each of our people food, drink, lodging, clothing, education and employment in addition to the rights guaranteed to him so far by our Constitution and our laws, so that justice may mean the same thing to everyone.”
Finally, since the deporting state governments have no immigration officials to police their borders there is no assurance that the deportees will not find their way back to where they were deported. However in view of the illegality of the deportation of poor people the governments of the federal capital territory and the respective states are advised to stop it without any further delay. If the practice is not discontinued the deporting state governments should be prepared to defend their action in Court. Sooner than later.
– FEMI FALANA, SAN is a Lagos Lawyer and human rights activist
Profile of Chuka Umunna,his career and work.
Chuka Umunna was born 17th of October, 1978 to a Nigerian Father and English-Irish Mother, he was educated at Hitherfield Primary School in Streatham, south London, at the voluntary aided Christ Church C of E Primary School (Cotherstone Road) in the Brixton Hill area of Streatham,and at the independent secondary school St. Dunstan’s College in Catford in south-east London. He obtained a 2:1 degree in English and French Law from the University of Manchester and then studied at the University of Burgundy in Dijon in France, and Nottingham Law School in Nottingham.
Education, equality, and community and youth engagement.
He trained at Herbert Smith the large “Magic Circle” City law firm: about his decision to join the firm he said “I wanted to join Herbert Smith because they were a big international firm, very much at the heart of the City, business and finance. Having entered thinking I wanted to be a hotshot corporate lawyer, I ended up wanting to become an employment lawyer because employment relates to people and their relationships. In 2006, he moved to the central London law firm, Rochman Landau, where he mainly acted for individuals and small and medium sized companies. As an employment lawyer, Umunna often spoke in the media on employment issues.
He is “Labour through and through” and says the Tories aren’t serious about equality, “despite what Cameron tries to say with his spin and presentation” and says the BSS is a very positive development, long overdue. But he warns that although Labour has traditionally represented Blacks: “We are in danger of falling behind on that if we don’t increase representation in the future. It’s not just about representation, it’s also about increasing out communities’ general participation in the political process. That’s something we must work on.”
Influence and motivation
At 27 Chuka Umunna has been in main street politics, Influenced by his father who is a died when he was 13. Chuka recalls moment with his father saying “It had a huge influence on my life. I had to grow up very, very quickly.” He added: “Politically my father had a big influence on me. He spoke out against the corruption in Nigeria, for better governance and got involved in politics in Anambra state. He narrowly missed out on winning the governorship of that state shortly before he died in a car crash. He lost because he refused to bribe anyone and was standing on an anti-corruption ticket.
Also motivating were his experiences while growing – In my youth I also often visited my father’s native Nigeria and came face to face with the extreme poverty one sees in Africa in the heart wrenching appeal videos produced by the likes of Oxfam and Comic Relief every year. I simply could not understand why some had so much, whilst others had so little. From there sprung a desire to do something about it and the other challenges we face.
he is presently a School Governor of Sunnyhill Primary School and sits on the Board of Sunnyhill Children’s Centre, both in Streatham Wells. He lives on Streatham High Road.
In addition, he sits on the Board of Generation Next, a not for profit social enterprise which provides activities for young people in London, and has been involved charitable youth work in Lambeth too.
He is a patron of Latimer Creative Media, a social enterprise which trains young people in digital media and a supporter of Cassandra Learning Centre, a charity raising awareness and working to stop domestic violence.
Prior to becoming Labour’s parliamentary candidate in Streatham, Chuka was Vice Chair of Streatham Labour Party from 2004 to 2008 and had held a variety of positions throughout the local party.
In the May 2010 general election, Chuka was elected to represent Streatham having received 20,037 votes, with the number of votes received by Labour rising from 18,950 in the previous general election in 2005. Turnout in Streatham increased by 11.5 percentage points at 62.8% compared with 51.3% in 2005.
He is a member of the GMB and Unite trade unions and sits on the Management Committee of progressive pressure group, Compass.
Since becoming an MP, he has been elected on to the Treasury select committee and become Ed Miliband’s parliamentary private secretary.
In October 2011, Chuka was appointed to the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, replacing the Rt Hon John Denham MP who announced his resignation from Shadow Cabinet.
In this role, Mr Umunna leads the Opposition Shadow Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) team, leading for the opposition on a wide range of issues including business, enterprise, science and universities.
3a Mount Ephraim Road, Streatham, London, SW16 1NQ
Tel: 020 8769 5063
Spotlight on Gbenga Elegbeleye’s contribution
“Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye was recently appointed as a Member of the CAF Disciplinary Board. He is a member of IBB Golf Club and a recipient of several awards”
Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye motivated by the desire to serve his people in higher capacity, resigned his appointment as Chairman Ondo Waste Management Board in 2006, to contest elections into the Federal House of Representatives.
- Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Sports
- Member House Committee on Defence
- Member House Committee on Appropriation
- Member House Committee on Works
- Member House Committee on Environment
- Member House Committee on Rural Development
- Member House Committee on Inter-parliamentary Affairs
- Member House Committee on Solid Minerals
As a member of the House of Representatives, he attracted several projects to his Federal Constituency. These include:
- Neighbourhood Sports Centre Iye road, Arigidi
- Sports Stadium at Oyinmo St, Ikare
- National Library Ikare
- Extension of electrification poles to Ojeka camp road; Odo Irun electrification, Oyimo, Ogunsusi road, Ilepa Ikare
- Erosion control and school furniture in Ogbagi
- Block of classrooms in the following schools, St George’s Pry School, Okeagbe, Salem School, Ekan Ikare, AUD School V Ishakunmi, Ikare, AUD School 2, Iku, Ikare, Local Govt Pry School Ajowa, Ebenezer Pry School Okorun, Ikare
- Several boreholes in most towns and villages, among many others
After serving as Director General, National Sports Commission, Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye was recently appointed as a Member of the CAF Disciplinary Board. He is a member of IBB Golf Club and a recipient of several awards and honours. These includes, Fellow of the Nigeria Institute of Local Govt and Public Administration; Fellow, Chattered Institute of Public Administration; Fellow African Business School; Fellow, Certified Institute of Sales Management; Patron, SWAN, FCT; Patron SWAN, Ondo State; Patron NUJ, Ondo State; Gold Personality Award by Skye Sports; African Film Academy Award for Sports Development; National Youth Council Award for National Development; City People Award for Excellence in Politics; African Leadership Award for Sports Development among several others.
Hon Gbenga Elegbeleye is happily married to Solape, they are blessed with four children
HON. GBENGA ELEGBELEYE – OTOLORIN
“Further motivated by the desire to serve in higher capacity, he resigned his appointment as Chairman Ondo Waste Management Board in 2006, to contest elections into the Federal House of Representatives. Between June 2007 and June 2011, Hon. Elegbeleye was a member of the Federal House of Representatives representing Akoko North East/North West Federal Constituency of Ondo State, where he served as Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Sports;”
Hon. Gbenga Otolorin Elegbeleye, popularly called “Otolorin” by his admirers was born in Ikare, Akoko North East Local Government Area of Ondo State. His educational background is made up as A.U.D Primary School, Ikare, St. Patrick’s’ Secondary School, Iwaro-Oka, University of Ife (Now Obafemi Awolowo University) Ile Ife and Ondo State University, Ado-Ekiti.
He obtained the following qualifications in his educational sojourn:
- Primary School Leaving Certificate
- West African School Certificate
- B.A. (Ife), Ile-Ife
- MPA (UNAD), Ado-Ekiti
As a result of his exemplary leadership qualities, in the Nigeria Youth Service Scheme, Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye was made the Administrative Officer of the Federal Road Safety Commission, Zone RS3 Kaduna, between 1988 and 1989, from where he ventured into private business.
Motivated by the desire to serve humanity, Hon. Gbenga in 1997 contested and won election as the youngest Chairman, Akoko North East Local Government Council in Ondo State. As a Local Government Chairman, he was also a member of Board of Ondo State Primary Education Board between 1997-98. Before this period, Hon Gbenga Elegbeleye was the Assistant State Secretary of the National Republican Convention, NRC for the old Ondo State between 1990 – 1993.
Impressed by his achievements as Local Government Chairman and his successful exploits in other areas of human endeavour, the then Governor of Ondo State, Late Chief Olusegun Agagu in 2003 appointed him Chairman, Ondo State Waste Management Authority, and under his erudite leadership, Akure was adjudged by the then Federal Ministry of Inter-Government Affairs, the second cleanest State Capital in Nigeria, after Calabar, in 2004.
Further motivated by the desire to serve in higher capacity, he resigned his appointment as Chairman Ondo Waste Management Board in 2006, to contest elections into the Federal House of Representatives. Between June 2007 and June 2011, Hon. Elegbeleye was a member of the Federal House of Representatives representing Akoko North East/North West Federal Constituency of Ondo State, where he served as Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Sports; Member House Committees on Defence, Appropriation, Works, Environment, Rural Development, Inter-parliamentary Affairs and Solid Minerals. As a member of the House of Representatives, he attracted several projects to his Federal Constituency. These includes the following: Neighbourhood Sports Centre Iye road, Arigidi; Sports Stadium at Oyinmo st, Ikare; National Library Ikare; Extension of electrification poles to Ojeka camp road; Odo Irun electrification, Oyimo, Ogunsusi road, Ilepa Ikare; erosion control and school furniture in Ogbagi, Block of classrooms in the following schools, St George’s Pry School, Okeagbe, Salem School, Ekan Ikare, AUD School V Ishakunmi, Ikare, AUD School 2, Iku, Ikare, Local Govt Pry School Ajowa, Ebenezer Pry School Okorun, Ikare; several boreholes in most towns and villages, among many others
Hon. Elegbeleye was a member of the Ondo State Football Association between 1998 and 2000, Chairman Ondo State Table Tennis Association (2004-2007), Vice Chairman Ondo State Sports Development Committee (2005-2009) and Chairman Rising Stars Football Club, Akure from 2004-2007, Proprietor, Ikare United Football Club, Member, NFA Fair-Play Committee, from 2004-2007, President Youths Sports Federation of Nigeria, Ondo State Chapter from 2003-2009. He also served as a member of the Ministerial Committee on the Reform of Football Administration in Nigeria between August and November 2011 and Member, Board of Directors, Abuja Investment Company between 2011 and 2013.
On May 15th 2013, the then President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, found his rich credentials in Sports Administration irresistible and appointed him, the Director General of the National Sports Commission. President Jonathan made the announcement during the Federal Executive Council meeting of May 15th, 2014.
During his stewardship as the Director General of the National Sports Commission, the Commission has experienced a change in fortune as Nigerian athletes, sportsmen and women have been winning international laurels across the globe.
On Friday 8th November 2013 at the Mohammad Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, the Golden Eaglets of Nigeria defeated Mexico 3-0 to win the FIFA U- 17 World Cup a record fourth time having won it in 1985, 1993 and 2007 to emerge as the most successful country in the competition up to date.
This was also followed by another laudable achievement in the 2013 Commonwealth weightlifting game tagged Malaysia 2013 where the Nigerian female lifters won the women’s category of the competition with 8 golds, 3 silvers and 3 bronze medals in the competition held in Malaysia in November 2013. This was also followed up with a 3rd placement of the Home based Super Eagles in the African Nations Championship (CHAN) held in South Africa. Nigeria had never qualified for the competition, but the Eagles not only qualified but went as far as winning the bronze medal of the competition after beating hard-fighting Zimbabwe 1-0 in the 3rd place match decided at the Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town on Saturday February 1st, 2014.
He was Head of Delegation, Nigeria U-17 African Youth Games in Botswana, tagged “Gaborone 2014” where Nigeria gathered a massive 41 medals the best outing so far against the record of 10 medals, to emerge overall 3rd best in the Games after winning 19 gold, 10 silver and 12 bronze medals.
Still under the leadership and stewardship of Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye, also as Head of Delegation, Team Nigeria also finished strong in the Glasgow, Commonwealth Games in Scotland. It was Nigeria’s best outing in the history of the Commonwealth , winning 11 golds, 11 silvers and 14 Bronze medals in the 20th edition of the Games held between July 23 and August 3rd, 2014. Team Nigeria also emerged the best team at the 2014 Marrakech Africa Athletics Championships held in Marrakech, Morocco in August, 2014. The Super Falcons beat all African countries to emerge Champions of Africa Women’s Championship (AWC) held in Namibia in October 2014.
Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye was recently appointed as a Member of the CAF Disciplinary Board. He is a member of IBB Golf Club and a recipient of several awards and honours. These includes, Fellow of the Nigeria Institute of Local Govt and Public Administration; Fellow, Chattered Institute of Public Administration; Fellow African Business School; Fellow, Certified Institute of Sales Management; Patron, SWAN, FCT; Patron SWAN, Ondo State; Patron NUJ, Ondo State; Gold Personality Award by Skye Sports; African Film Academy Award for Sports Development; National Youth Council Award for National Development; City People Award for Excellence in Politics; African Leadership Award for Sports Development among several others, Hon Gbenga Elegbeleye is married to Solape, they are blessed with four children
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