Lagos State seeks FG’s help to deport 199 Togolese immigrants
LAGOS State government yesterday urged the Federal Government to prevail on its agencies to repatriate the 199 illegal immigrants currently camped at the Lagos Emergency Resettlement Centres (ERCs) in Igando, Alimosho Local Government area and Agbowa, Ikorodu back to their country.
Secretary to the State government, Tunji Bello, who made the plea yesterday, pointed out that the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Nigerian Immigration Service must take up their statutory responsibilities by repatriating the immigrants.
He said that the state government could no longer continue to accommodate the illegal immigrants due to the enormous pressure put on the ERCs at Igando and Agbowa facilities.
Bello explained that the Togolese nationals were first sighted at Awolowo Road, Ikoyi directly in front of the United Nations Refugees office.
According to him: “Immediately the Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode was informed of their illegal presence at the location, he promptly directed that the relevant state agency should take up responsibility of accommodating them, initially at the Emergency Relief Camp (ERC) in Igando and later at its camp in Agbowa Ikorodu,” he said.
Bello further explained that the governor also directed that the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Nigerian Immigration Services should be notified, saying the directive was immediately carried out.
According to him, the state government realised that these agencies had not taken any step to address the situation because the number of illegal immigrants from Togo had continued to increase by the day.
“As at today, the number of Togolese illegal immigrants has increased from 114 to 199, putting serious pressure on the limited spaces at the two camps,” Bello said.
He pointed out that the Togolese immigrants were expelled from Benin Republic where they had lived for over 10 years.
“They came to Nigeria, Lagos to be precise, and because of the accommodation provided by the state government at its ERCs, those illegal immigrants at the Igando camp started calling others on phone in Benin Republic to come to Nigeria, telling them that they now have a new home. As at the Weekend, another 85 illegal immigrants of same Togolese descent were taken to ERC, Agbowa.
“The state has discovered that many of them smuggle their way through the Nigeria borders,” he said.
Bello warned that the state’s magnanimous hospitality to Nigerian residents and other lawful inhabitants in distress should not be abused or over-stretched as the ERC was built to accommodate Lagosians and Nigerian residents during emergency situations not illegal immigrants.
The state secretary added: “These emergency facilities as at today are seriously pressurised and can no longer accommodate anybody. What becomes of legal residents of the state in case an emergency occurs? God forbid.
“The Nigerian Immigration Service is therefore advised to ensure that the nation’s borders are well manned by not giving room to any form of compromise at all times.”