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Ex-UN envoy Ezeilo condemns Lagos Govt deportation of Osun indigenes

Former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Trafficking Persons in Africa, Prof. Joy Ezeilo, has condemned the deportation of Osun State indigenes by the Lagos State Government.

Ezeilo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and an activist, described the action of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu-led administration of Lagos State as cruel, noting that it violates Section 41 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as Amended.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Lagos State Government had confirmed that it deported some people to Osun and other states based on their request to be helped to go back home.

There had been furore over deportation of Osun State indigenes by the state government at the weekend, with Osun Governor, Ademola Adeleke, expressing anger over the incident.

Lagos Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, had, while responding to accusations that Lagos Government deported Nigerian citizens, said that 450 miscreants were rescued at the weekend and that out of the lot, 371 people had pleaded for assistance to relocate to their various states due to the hardship they were facing in Lagos.

In a statement late Sunday evening, the Lagos State Government said: “The statewide exercise to free Lagos of visible security risks has continued after the arrest of some suspects under the Dolphin Estate bridge.

“The ceaseless influx of miscreants, beggars, and the destitute onto Lagos streets has raised fears of insecurity of lives and property. This is unacceptable.

“As part of the exercise, 450 miscreants were at the weekend rescued. Of the lot, 371 pleaded for assistance to relocate to their various states due to the hardship they are facing in Lagos; 79 have been absorbed into some government facilities for rehabilitation after showing signs of being unwell.

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“The exercise will continue as part of the government’s responsibility to keep our citizens safe and secure.”

Reports on Saturday indicated that several luxury buses dropped hundreds of youths at Ilesa, Osun State, after they were rounded up in several parts of Lagos State.

Governor Ademola Adeleke said he interfaced with his Lagos counterpart Sanwo-Olu over the alleged deportation of Osun indigenes from Lagos to the Ilesa area of Osun State.

Adeleke had said an investigation team it set up confirmed the veracity of the story, adding that the investigative team reported that eye witness’ accounts confirmed the dropping of the youths in several luxurious buses by a team suspected to be from Lagos State.

The state’s report showed that the youths were systematically dropped at Ilesa-Akure Express junction, Breweries; Ilesa–Ibodi–Iginla to Ife Express junction; Osun Ankara Express junction; Imelu Express junction; and Iperindo Express junction.

But reacting to the development, Ezeilo, who is the founder, Women Aid Collective (WACOL) and Tamar Sexual Assault Referral Centre and the West African Women’s Rights, condemned it in totality.

In short statement posted on her X (formerly Twitter), titled: “Re-Lagos deportation of Osun state indigenes,” the legal luminary said it cannot be justified, adding, “deporting Nigerian citizens within the country’s borders is morally reprehensible and illegal.”

Such action, according to her, “violates their right to move and reside freely in Nigeria and could be used to target specific ethnic or vulnerable groups. This cruel act cannot be justified.”

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She, however, noted that the government of Lagos State should instead focus on “assisting marginalised communities and holding offenders accountable for their actions”.

She maintained that under Section 41 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as Amended it was illegal to deport any Nigerian within the country’s borders, warning that it is illegal.

“41(1) of the 1999 constitution provides that: Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof, and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereby or exit therefrom,” Ezeilo stated, adding that Lagos State Government should retrace its steps.

Ede Nwa Ede
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