December 5, 2014 – A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Friday ruled that the Lagos State Government did not deport anybody of Igbo extraction from the state.
The Lagos State Government had in July 24, 2013 arrested about 70 persons in Lagos and relocated them to their home town in Onitsha, Anambra state.
However, testifying earlier before Justice Rita Ajumogobia on the same issue, one of the plaintiff, Onyeka Ugwa, who hails from Orlu in Imo State, said he lived in Lagos for five years and sold books in Okokomaiko.
He claimed he was arrested by policemen and officers of the Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) in January last year and taken to a rehabilitation centre in Oshodi, where he was “dumped and abandoned.” Ugwa added that he was transferred to a ‘detention camp’, where he met other Igbos. “We were treated like animals; people were dying around me daily.”
He said on July 23 last year, Igbo were ‘bundled’ into buses without being told their destination. “The bus kept moving through the night until we were ‘offloaded like log of woods’ at Upper Iweka in Onitsha, Anambra State on July 24, last year. The buses drove off towards Lagos. At daybreak, we found ourselves stranded ,” she said. Ugwa said the Red Cross took care of them in Onitsha, adding that all they worked for and achieved in Lagos were taken from them.
He said while some of them admitted to being beggars, most of them had jobs in Lagos.“I am not a destitute and I fend for myself,” he said.
While ruling on the matter filed by Incorporated Trustees of Media Rights Agenda against the state, Justice Musa Kurya noted that contrary to allegations of the applicant, the Lagos State Government did not deport any applicant or any person from the state.
Attorney General of Lagos and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Ade Ipaye had argued that the applicants were rescued from different part of the state while they were begging for alms, living under the bridges, by the roadsides and engaging in other social vices with no discernible means of livelihood or physical address in the Lagos.
According to the learned judge, the case of Lagos state was more credible on balance of probability and upheld the submission of Ipaye that it was the policy of the state government to cater for the welfare of all residents of the state irrespective of their state of origin.
He told the court that in furtherance of state policy, the state government did its best to ensure that residents were gainfully employed and properly accommodated so that they do not constitute themselves into destitute, vagrants and beggars.
The judge also ruled that against allegations by applicants, Lagos neither owns nor operates a detention centre at Ikorodu or elsewhere.