By VINCENT UJUMADU
AWKA — NO fewer than 70 persons allegedly deported by the Lagos State government were sighted in the commercial city of Onitsha yesterday, some non-Igbo speaking.
It was the second time such human cargo was dropped in the town this year.
Vanguard gathered that they were brought in a trailer and escorted by a police patrol van with heavily armed police men which, after discharging them at the popular Upper Iweka flyover at about 3.20am, made a U–turn and headed back to Lagos.
Many of them showed signs of lunacy as they could not say their names and home towns, while a few others who could speak claimed that they were brought into the city by the Lagos State government.
Some of them said they had been in detention for many years before they were finally released and put in a trailer and brought to Onitsha.
An eyewitness said when he saw the trailer stop at night, he initially thought it was carrying contraband goods and perhaps wanted to beat the customs officials by using early morning to come into Onitsha, adding that he was shocked to see human beings were forced out of the lorry.
The eyewitness, who simply gave his name as John, said: “I was woken up by the light from the police escort van when it reached the fly over. I noticed that a trailer was coming behind the police patrol van and suddenly the trailer stopped and they began to ask these people to come down.
“It was then I noticed that there were some people who could not alight from the trailer on their own and the driver and some policemen helped them and brought them down. Immediately after dropping them, the lorry and the police van made a “U” turn and headed back to Head Bridge”.
“When the day broke, I saw about 70 persons that looked malnourished, some of them were already insane.”
According to him, some of the people who looked healthy started running into the commercial city after they were brought into the town, while the apparently insane ones stayed till the day break when residents of the city came to catch a glimpse of them and started buying food and other consumables for them.
Some people at Upper Iweka said some of the people were not Igbos as they spoke Yoruba and Edo. At about 1 pm yesterday, few of the deportees were still hanging around the area.
One of them who gave her name as Chima said he hails from Abia State, adding that she was arrested some time in May last year by a group of people in uniform on her way to Okokomaiko in Lagos where she lived.
She said that she was kept in a dark room that looked like a warehouse for several days along with many other people, adding that up till the time she was brought into Onitsha, she never knew what she did that warranted her arrest.
She also said that many of those arrested along with her died in detention
The Area Commander of the police at Onitsha, Mr. Benjamin Woru said the police would investigate the incident.
He also said that the police would monitor the movement of the victims to ensure there would be no security breach in the commercial city of Onitsha and the state in general, especially with governorship and local government elections drawing near.