The deportation of some Nigerians from their state of residence to their state of origin following the spread of COVID-19 has again re-opened citizenship rights debate in the country. The Northern Governors’ Forum (NGF) had recently issued a statement where they observed that Almajiri children were exposed to the risk of contracting coronavirus and unanimously resolved to ban the almajiri system and also evacuate the children to their parents or states of origin.
As at yesterday, at least three states in the north had started implementing the decision. The Kano State Commissioner for Local Government, Murtala Garo, last Sunday, disclosed that 419 almajiris had been deported to Katsina, 524 to Jigawa and 155 to Kaduna, totalling 1,098. The Kaduna State government has also reportedly deported 40 almajiris to Kebbi State government while Benue State government has evacuated 17 to Bauchi and 42 to Katsina states, respectively, bringing the total to 59.
The action of the northern governors apparently gave the green light to the Rivers State government to send 150 non-indigenes to their states of origin last Wednesday. Reports said some of those deported came from Ebonyi, Akwa Ibom and northern states as well as Niger Republic. Governor Nyesom Wike had in a statewide broadcast disclosed that he had directed the Commissioner for Social Welfare “to round up and deport all vagrants, including the almajiri, to their states of origin to protect our people from the threat they present to the transmission of this pandemic.”