By Emeka Ngige, SAN
I had cause to speak on the vexed issue of the relocation of some indigenes of Anambra State from Lagos to Onitsha at a private forum in Lagos last weekend. Based on the facts then available to me I condemned the action of the Lagos State Government (LASG) and also blamed Anambra State Government (ANSG) for resorting to letter writing to President Jonathan each time the issue arose instead of confronting the problem frontally. I had also argued that Anambra State Government should have screened the alleged 72 returnees, identify those from Anambra State and rehabilitate them while returning the non-Anambrarians back to the sender.
Most unfortunately but not unexpectedly, my views were maliciously and mischievously distorted by the media aides of the Anambra State Governor and planted in some national dailies and on the internet. The sole intention was to pitch me against my elder brother, Senator Chris Ngige who had criticized the handling of the matter by the Anambra State Government and sow discord between me and my brother silk, Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN. Let me make it clear that the plot of the Anambra State Government has failed abysmally. Nigerians and Anambrarians can no longer be fooled.
It is noteworthy that at the time I made the said remarks at the private forum, I was not privy to the exchange of correspondences between the Lagos State Government and its Anambra State counterpart. However, after the event, I read the eme- rging corres pon-dences and reports on the strong defence mounted by the LASG. It then became obvious to me that the documents showed clearly that LASG had by March 2013 intimated ANSG on the planned transfer of the destitute. It is equally apparent from the documents that it was a clear case of dereliction of duty by the ANSG.
The Anambra State Government has no excuse whatsoever not to follow through on the transfer after acknowledging letters from LASG and agreeing on the exchange date. Further reading the letters, I have no doubt whatsoever that the blame for the current debacle rests squarely with ANSG despite its desperation to politicize the matter with the aim of gaining votes from the crisis during the forthcoming Anambra State Governorship election in November.
It is apparent that the controversy would have been averted had the ANSG played its part as agreed.
What is clearly in issue is that ANSG wrote to LASG requesting ‘urgently’ for particulars of the destitute claiming to be indigenes of Anambra State so as to “facilitate their integration with their families if they are from Anambra.” LASG responded with a list of 14 names including their particulars and requested the presence of ANSG officials for a screening exercise at the Ikorodu Rehabilitation Centre.
Anambra State Government never got back to LASG! Anambra Governor now alleges that 72 persons were repatriated instead of only 14. Where is the honour? Where is the integrity? This is obviously a very sad reminder of the Nigerian Governors Forum election where 16 became a majority against 19 and the Anambra Governor was in the fore-front of this show of shame.
The Anambra State Government should simply apologise to the Fashola Administration for maligning the administration and misinforming Nigerians on the issue and stop this unethical ethnic politics. LASG remains the most friendly government to Anambrarians and Ndigbo in general more than any other State in Nigeria. Enough is enough !