Home > Golden Thoughts > “Deportation” of Nigerians from Nigeria: What Fani-Kayode Should Know by D. Brown Esq.

“Deportation” of Nigerians from Nigeria: What Fani-Kayode Should Know by D. Brown Esq.

I have heard and read so much about the “famous” article written by a “comrade” and an “apostle” of Nigeria’s unity in the form of Chief Femi Fani-Kayode entitled “The bitter truth about the Igbos”.

It is sad to recall that just few years back this man who many Nigerians rightly suspect of being an ethnic bigot held two separate portfolios as minister in the Federal Executive cabinet instead of being a commissioner in his state or perhaps a worker in the palace. His words in those three different articles well targeted at the Igbos are just so myopic and parochial that one would wonder if he had a long-standing grudge against the Igbo ethnic nationality.

It may be that this is a warning to the Igbos around him to know that as far as his feelings for the South-easterners are concerned, there is no love lost. The unhealthy feeling is as good as wishing the Igbo could be wiped-out of the map one day (if I am not hyperbolizing). Perhaps, he is a man who talks so much without drawing the line between what is good and bad. Little wonder, like an adolescent he could easily mention names of ladies he has had affairs with on the pages of newspapers and electronic media.

In countries where anti-corruption agencies know their job and live up to it, people like Fani-Kayode would have been prosecuted and convicted for corruption. He should be thanking the failed anti-corruption system in the country rather than sowing seeds of discord, hatred and disharmony between two ethnic nationalities that have long enjoyed peaceful co-existence. He has always claimed to be a student of history. If truly he is as claimed, he should know that the two nationalities have never in history carried arms against each other. It is thus a great disappointment to those who had thought him to be a leader and an elder to hear such disgusting account of the Igbo ethnic group. He shouldn’t be feeding young minds with such backward, dis-uniting and destructive evil seeds. Probably the saying that old age is not synonymous with wisdom may just be the case here. The Yoruba chief should know that there is no place for people like him in a modern united Nigeria.

Moreso, I will not be in a hurry to conclude that his views as representing the views of the Yorubas, because in all honesty and fairness the average Yoruba man just like the northeners, kalabaris, Igbos and indeed many Nigerians are accommodating, intelligent and know what to say and what not to say at any given time. In the words of President Benjamin Franklin “let’s not only remember to say the right thing at the right time but to also leave unsaid the wrong thing at the most tempting moments”. Perhaps, if Fani-Kayode had guarded his loins with those words he would have been able to ignore whatever he must have heard from anybody and kept shut. He should not allow Nigerians find compelling reasons to associate his lack of self-control with mouth diarrhoea.

It is at this juncture imperative to state that contrary to what someone reading this may think, I am not Igbo and have no affinity with the Igbo nation. However, I am a Nigerian and proud to say that the fact that I am a Nigerian comes before and above my ethnic inclination as a Kalabari or Rivers man. Unlike Chief Fani-Kayode, I believe in the unity and oneness of this nation, despite the fact that Nigeria boasts of been amongst the major producers of crude in the international community at the expense of the health and livelihood of the Niger Deltans.

Perhaps, I should as well remind the likes of Fani-Kayode that most of those who work in the oil companies are not Niger Deltans but Yorubas and Hausas, but we don’t mind because they are first Nigerians. Similarly, I don’t think the yoruba chief has been able to fault the claim that on all walks of life, Lagos is made up of over 50% Igbos with other ethnic nationalities outside Yoruba.

Now I turn to the issue of deportation. The word ‘deportation’ simply put means the expulsion of people from one part of a country to another or the expulsion of people from one country to another. However, today, the word has become more associated with the latter than the former. On that premise, I will rather use the phrase ‘forceful ejection’ instead of the word deportation. The question that now follows is “has any state the right to forcefully eject a Nigerian citizen out of the state? Or more specifically, can Lagos state forcefully eject non-Lagosians or Igbos out of Lagos State? This question can in my opinion only be answered by considering the relevant sections of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

S.41(1) provides: “every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely through out Nigeria and reside in any part thereof…”

I need not bore you with the other parts of this provision since it is not relevant to the present discuss. This provision in my view appears to be sufficiently explicit for everyone to understand that as a Nigerian it is a fundamental right to live in any part of the country without forceful ejection by any person or government. The right is part of those under Chapter IV of the Constitution which are termed ‘fundamental’ and cannot be taken away from anyone unless in accordance with the Constitution itself.

The right in section 41 is such that irrespective of your state of birth, ethnic region or affinity, religious belief or inclination you can peacefully reside in any part of Nigeria without the fear of been bullied and booted-out one day. This is well in line with the fact that Nigeria is a single state and has only federating units for administrative convenience, and thus citizens should be encouraged to peacefully coexist. A Sokoto man living in Port Harcourt should see Port Harcourt as his home just as a Kalabari man living in a Yoruba land should see such place as home. This I think is the intention of the makers of our Constitution. To add to this, section 43 of the same Constitution gives all Nigerian citizens the right to acquire both moveable and immovable property anywhere in Nigeria.

Having settled the above, it will be pertinent at this juncture to equally consider the provisions of section of the Constitution. It provides:

“nothing in sections 37, 38, 39, 40 and 41 of this Constitution shall invalidate any law that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society-

(a) in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or health; or

(b) for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedom of the other persons.

I had to bring in the above section because it is not uncommon for many people and indeed legal practitioners to quickly cloak such reckless and unlawful acts as perpetuated by the Lagos state government under such exceptions to a general provision without closely looking at their compatibility. Now the Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice of Lagos State was recently quoted to have said that “the decision to transport the affected people to their home state was based on their request after due consultation with their state of origin.” He further said, “A lot have been said about this, it has fuelled a lot of speculations and drawing bad blood. But this is a simple routine matter which has been happening to people all over the country, be it Yoruba, Igbo or Hausas, who has no social support living in the state.”

With due respect to the Honourable AG, were this people expelled in the interest of defence? Certainly not, because defence is a federal matter! Was it in the interest of public safety or health? We were never told this was the case. All one can decipher from his comment is that they do not have means of livelihood. The question then is when did unemployment become a crime in Lagos state or indeed in Nigeria? Were they forcibly removed for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedom of others? In all fairness, unless there are still facts left unrevealed about the forced ejection, the answer again is an emphatic NO.

The explanation of Mr. Ipaye, the Honourable Attorney General remains grossly unsatisfactory. How come Gov. Obi wrote the president on the act if his Lagos counterpart had discussed it with him prior to the forceful ejection? Why have the same people they claimed asked for their help to be moved to Anambra state now complaining of being forcefully moved out of Lagos? Someone is not saying something.

Strongly, in my opinion as a civil right activist and a constitutional lawyer, it is unlawful, illegal and a flagrant display of executive lawlessness on the part of the Lagos state government to have forcefully moved Nigerian citizens out of Lagos state.

I truly believe the Yorubas are a very good people, at least my relationship with them has over and again continued to prove that to me. That is why I appeal to Nigerians and indeed the Igbos that the views expressed by Femi Fani-Kayode should NOT be seen as the views of the Yoruba ethnic nationality. Thanks to eminent Yoruba sons who had come out to speak and write against his write-up.

At this point, I will not mince words in expressing my displeasure at his inglorious article written by a man who should probably be in prison for the aviation intervention fund mismanaged under his very nose as the ‘honourable’ Minister of Aviation. I consider it a shame and a disappointment that such a recalcitrant ethnic chauvinist, unrepentant ethnic nepotist, an apostle of ethnic superiority, an abysmal tribalist and a politician well-garnished with controversy parades a degree from Cambridge University. What a sharp contrast!

In conclusion, FANI-KAYODE should know what to say and what not to say to avoid inciting violence or heating up the polity especially at a time like this when the country is still battling with the menace of terrorism and sectarian violence. The earlier we see ourselves as Nigerians first and foremost before our various ethnic affiliation, the better it is for all of us. Chief, please you said you are a man of truth, learn not only to say the right things but also learn to leave unsaid the wrong things at the most tempting moment.

D. Brown Esq. is a Legal Practitioner, Marina, Lagos State. He welcomes your comments, contributions and criticisms. You can write him @ meetbarristerbrown@gmail.com or connect with him on Facebook: Tamunodieari Onari Gordon-Brown

Categories: Golden Thoughts
  1. justine
    24/08/2013 at 16:39

    That was a resounding and heart-blowing research coming at the right time.

  2. Peter
    25/08/2013 at 18:34

    Fani-Kayode has increasingly degenerated over time. The media are getting all the noise they need from him to keep the traffic coming. What a shame

  3. Ezeigwe Victoria
    25/08/2013 at 18:47

    It couldnt v been well said.i was astonished when i heard of the act of Lagos State govt.but was particularly disappointed wit d Govenor considerin his alma mater.The infor dat they contacted their state of origin before such inhumane act is a total lie,as a worker at d local govt in Onitsha where dey were dumped,d victims suffered a terrible fate & some of dem ended up dead.I dnt tink dis matter should b swept under d carpet just like dat as it pose a big threat to our national unity.The presidency should atleast give an assurance dat it would’nt repeat again & also keep his Governors under check if he doesnt want to wake up one & discovered dat Nigeria is gone,i wonder wat he would then b presiding.Even d bible said ‘a little leaven leavens the whole lump’.Nice one Brown,keep it up.

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