Politics of Deportations: Where Are the Northern Governors? By Gimba Kakanda

Gimba Kakanda

Religion and nationalism are the most powerful forms of indoctrination and, in the name of these two, many injustices can be done so that our idea of a shared humanity [in terms of religion and nationality] is thus contradicted and ridiculed. Nationalism is theoretically the healer of a colourfully diverse country possessed by the ghosts of hatred along the lines of the things that highlight differences, from the shapes of our places of worship to the colour of our skin. And where nationalism fails, where the love for country and appreciation of its diversity are dominated by our allegiances to personal and private interests, conflicts set in, sometimes irredeemable ones, other times those repairable through diplomacy. But where the latter fails and the former is unanimously understood, cartographers are invited to demarcate the geography of our conflicts. Like the split of India and Pakistan. Like the split of North Korea and South Korea. Like the Split of Malaysia and Singapore. And, yes, like the attempted split of Nigeria into two unequal halves.

If our history of the last 50 years is not a memo on how not to run a country, I wonder how this growing sectionalism can be tamed. What’s happening in Nigeria today is a repeat, though reversed, of those dark years where a set of people became the scapegoats for an atrocity carried out by a few aggrieved or deluded citizens who are members of a persecuted ethnicity or region. This is what made the deportation, over the week, of 84 “northerners” by Imo State government very devastating news. On suspicion of terrorism, they said. The deportees, who were in Owerri to study at Imo College of Advanced Professional Studies, ICAPS, had reportedly camped on the premises of a newspaper house while awaiting their registration procedures before their identity became pronounced as the enemies, northerners, “terrorists”, and thus they had too be deported “for fears that they might be members of the dreaded Boko Haram.” A few days before that, it was the case of Igbo youths attacking Hausa traders in Onitsha. Their crime? “(A)lleged killing of a staff of the Anambra State Transport Agency, ASTA, by a trailer driver of Northern extraction (sic)” – Vanguard Newspaper (15/01/2015). Isn’t this, this careless scapegoating, the root of our deepened sectionalism?

The earth almost folded when Lagos State’s Governor Babatunde Fashola, in one of his anti-people policies, deported some Igbos to their home state. The streak of condemnations and especially the screams of marginalisation among Igbo political and intellectual elite and the compliant masses, was deafening, and I must add, frightening. The Igbo deportees have dragged the Lagos State Government to court, and this week they declared their demand for a billion naira in damages. None of us supported Fashola. Interestingly, none of these “human rights activists”, who had shown us the shade of their ethnic activism, bothered about the ill treatments of perceived northerners in the hands of the same Igbos. Only the empathy of a bigot functions is such a manner.

And when some of us stepped out to highlight these issues, there are murmurings about attacks on the Igbos too in the north by Boko Haram insurgents. Is Boko Haram a legitimate advocate of the north, Hausa-Fulani or the Muslims? Isn’t it an enemy of state, against any people, organisation or interest averse to its heavily flawed and misrepresented ideals of Islam? In the lash of its many crimes against humanity, has Boko Haram not killed uncountable innocent Nigerians, as it targets churches, mosques of non-cooperating Muslims, schools of both Muslims and Christians, boys and girls and also public institutions where religious affiliations are not tattooed on workers’ foreheads? Permit me to ask: is the emir of Kano, a frail old man who escaped death in gun attack and now living in fear of the terrorists, a Christian – and an Igbo? Are the young men here in the north called “Civilian JTF” who have risen to fight the terrorists also Igbos – and Christians? Were the murdered retired military officer and elder statesman, General Mohammad Shuwa, and all the northern elite and technocrats lost in this madness Christians and Igbos? And was the father of Kano State’s Governor Kwankwaso who was attacked just last week a Christian and an Igbo? If Boko Haram has enjoyed the backing of the north as is being touted by hate-mongering commentators who do not even know that the north is a region of 19 expansive states, why are indigenous northerners and Muslims also targeted alongside the Christians?

Now where are the northern governors? And where are the so-called representatives of the northern interests, especially the Arewa Consultative Forum? So there is no screaming and calling for Governor Rochas Okorocha’s explanations and apologies, and, threatening to retaliate? Our Governors, especially Katsina State’s Governor Ibrahim Shema from whose State the “terrorist” suspects hailed, must carry out a needful measure, in the fashion of Anambra State’s Governor Peter Obi’s confrontations of his Lagos counterpart. They must prove to these boys that they are indeed elected to represent them. If those prospective students have been suspected to be of the Boko Haram militants and potentially considered threats by the clairvoyance of the security personnel in Owerri, why weren’t they handed over to the “appropriate authorities” as our bail-abusing policemen are called in friendliest references?

Well, the next election is just a calendar away, you may chant “Sai mai sallah” again in abusing your franchise having been hoodwinked into sectional alignments. What have these political “masu sallah”, those representative of your own religious values and ethnic identities, done for you now that you’re being hauled as worthless third-class citizens with no political representatives? Thank you, Governor Okorocha for exposing that the Boko Haram insurgents from the republic of northern Nigeria now carry identity cards around. We thank you, sir. May God save us from us!

By Gimba Kakanda
@gimbakakanda (On Twitter)


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  • max

    The media should help us out on this deportation of northerns by imo state government. Is it that these people were sent back to their states because of boko haram? Are they living already in imo state? Because since the incident of boko haram the northerns have been living in imo state even when boko haram killed many igbos in the north. Even when boko haram threatened southerners to leave the north I don’t think if any northern was asked to leave east or south.
    I can’t see the reason why students should be sent back to their states . Please the media should help us because anything and everything about Rochas Okorocha is 419.He is fruad epitomize!
    Look igbos fought against deportation because they have to don’t wait for anyone to fight for you. Unfortunately it is the kind of Nigeria we leave in today. But don’t expect your governors to talk because Rochas belongs to APC.It may be a business gone wrong I said may be.

  • Sani Obi

    Dear gimba, abeg kool ur temper. I’m an Igbo man from Imo state living in Kebbi. I read ur piece and could not find any intellectual loophole or flaws. Igbos are d greatest migrants and those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. Rochas should offer an immediate apology and get to d bottom of this.

    • Abdullahi Abba Bukar

      Wanna, it is not Rochas who should apologise but GEJ. Rochas doesn’t control the security agencies. GEJ is one of the luckiest persons I ever seen – “he has Patience at his disposal.” My only dismay is, he is lacking patience in dealing with opposition. The deportation could be base on suspicion that those involved could vote for the opposition.

    • Dr. Peter Ejirika,CPA

      You are not an Ibo man. Ibos are known for learning from their past. You are not an Ibo man. Rather than stay and be sliced like meat why not go to other African countries and teach. You are not an Ibo man by any stretch of the imagination.

  • Bishop

    Well written. Hope to read more from you.

    • Uche Micheal

      These problems are all loopholes failed to address by our constitution of Indigenes/Settlers in our country. Imagine I from Kano cannot feel free in Lagos to persue everything legitimate and same goes to an Igbo who is based in Kano or any Northern State.

      This is all a failure from these so called politicians who most of the time stumbles on one another when it comes to money sharing. They’re really “Financial Vultures”as one Columnist rightly put.

      • D.A

        There is nothing wrong with the indigene/settler provision. The constitution is clear on freedom of movement in the country. There is no ambiguity on that issue.

        • Bishop

          You are right but most forms carry space. For indigene and lots of emphasis is laid on it. Maybe we have to really look into that as a nation

          • D.A

            I disagree with you on that. The removal of the dichotomy disadvantages minorities and the people whose tribes are less likely to migrate. It also advantages those tribes whose areas people are less likely to migrate to.

  • Bala R

    Suleja here we come.

  • Garden-City Boy

    When has Imo State become the seat for the education of mullahs? Whatever happened to the usual Pakistan?

  • This article would not want to label all Hausa or Fulani boko haram but instead of addressing the governor in question, he is busy instigating hate against all igbos as if they held a meeting with rochas to send back the Hausa Fulani. These people were not deported because they were not living in IMO state. They were on their way to IMO from the north via rivers before they were apprehended by the police. They seem suspicious and were returned to base. Nobody wants to take chances with potential murderers. The north should fight the evil of religious violence in its midst because just today Fulanis wiped out an entire family in kaduna south. The atakas, biroms, tivs, eggons, jukuns, bachamas, kutebs, taroks, gamais, kajes, anagutas etc of the middle belt are facing daily massacres by the itinerant cattle rearing Fulanis. The Hausa Fulani and the kanuri boko haram should remove the log in their eyes before looking for twigs in the eyes of others.

  • Uche Micheal

    These are all signs of loopholes from our constitution that our so called politicians who turned to Financial Vultures failed to amend to do away with the problem of Indigenes/Settlers in Nigeria.

    For all the problem related to this deportation and many similar to that are here to stay till when the constitution deals with them.

  • D.A

    Very good article. Ibos have always been hypocritical leeches. Governor Obi was one of the first to deport and Governor Okorocha is now the last. The ibos are scared stiff of losing presence in Lagos because that state has been their source of opportunity. They are quick to launch abuse on the Yoruba but hug the Yoruba so close that we cannot breath. They are intent on encroaching our space, land, air, tradition, education, culture and essence. The reason few people make a fuss about the actions of Obi and Okorocha is because few Nigerians want to live in the east anyway! It is a cesspit!

    • Dr. Peter Ejirika,CPA

      Deportation is a diversionary issue the issue at stake is that a northern Nigerian institution would rather hire a less qualified professional from India, Egypt, Saudi Arabia or any other Islamic country than hire a more qualified individual from Southern Nigeria. This raises the question as to what these Islamic scholars are looking for in a non Islamic institution? I would guess soft targets for Boko Haram bombs.

  • Dr. Peter Ejirika,CPA

    Deportation is a diversionary issue the issue at stake is that a northern Nigerian institution would rather hire a less qualified professional from India, Egypt, Saudi Arabia or any other Islamic country than hire a more qualified individual from Southern Nigeria. This raises the question as to what these Islamic scholars are looking for in a non Islamic institution? I would guess soft targets for Boko Haram bombs.

  • Dr. Peter Ejirika,CPA

    Northern Nigeria should not hesitate in deporting any suspicious character of Ibo origin in northern Nigeria. Actually, any individual who claims to be an Ibo person and presently resides in northern Nigeria should have his/her head examined.

    • D.A

      That is precisely what Lagos did any you guys starting crying! Lagos deported suspicious looking people back to the east.

      • Dr. Peter Ejirika,CPA

        Deportation is a diversionary issue the issue at stake is that a northern Nigerian institution would rather hire a less qualified professional from India, Egypt, Saudi Arabia or any other Islamic country than hire a more qualified individual from Southern Nigeria. This raises the question as to what these Islamic scholars are looking for in a non Islamic institution? I would guess soft targets for Boko Haram bombs.

        • D.A

          That is so bizarre. They are free to go where ever they want to within Nigeria unless they trespass on private property or commit a crime. They did neither. What do ibo’s want in Yoruba land especially as everyone knows how much they hate Yorubas? That after all is your thought process taken to its logical conclusion.

          • Dr. Peter Ejirika,CPA

            You started your
            discussion under a wrong premise that Ibos hate Yorubas. Actually, a great deal
            of inter marriages have taken place between the two tribes so I don’t know the
            source of your information. The issue of the legal status of Lagos is another example
            of the absence of legal scholars in the national politics of Nigeria. Nigerian
            legislators are conglomeration of hard core unskilled unemployables who
            perceive public service as a source of gainful employment. Otherwise, Lagos is
            a federal territory and belongs to no one ethnic group. Can you imagine if
            Rivers State lays claim to their oil. However, each ethnic group can lay claim
            to the natural resources found within their geographical zone and what will
            result the end of the unholy marriage called Nigeria. Maybe, you are not aware
            if Nigeria is to disintegrate today Ibos in diaspora can establish a more
            viable country than what Nigeria presently posits. Ibos may not have what
            Yorubas and the other ethnic groups have but one thing they have in quantum is
            highly skilled human capital in all parts of the globe. If there is a black man
            in the moon today he is likely to be a descendant of Ibo nation. With human
            capital Ibos can always fend for themselves. For instance, Ibos have the
            only female astrophysicist in the world and graduate about 5 world class
            medical doctors in Texas and Spain every academic year. I mean medical doctors
            not what you presently graduate in Nigeria each year. If Nigeria is to
            disintegrate would western Nigeria love to deal with the Ibo nation on equal
            keel? You better believe it. So I don’t know where you got this idea that Ibos
            and Yorubas are enemies. The policy of the modern day Ibos individual is to
            wish the best for Nigeria but if the inevitable happens Ibos would give good
            account of themselves so Ibos are the proverbial Felas’s “water no get
            enemy.” So please disabuse yourself about the notion of Ibos hating
            Yorubas for Yorubas are the in laws of Ibos. In the light of the experiences of
            Ibos, Hausas and Fulanis would always be dealt with on the bases of
            “trust but verify” policy.

          • D.A

            In an ideal world i would agree. But I read the Achebe book and the ibo response to his bigotry. I also know the deliberate marginalisation of the Yoruba wherever the department is headed by an ibo. The demonisation of the Fashola for actions done by ibo governors before and after Fashola is a further testament of the ibo position.

            That some members of the various tribes inter marry do not makes us in laws. We are two different lines!

          • Dr. Peter Ejirika,CPA

            I believe you are
            espousing your hatred for the Ibos unfortunately the best of Ibos are not in
            Nigeria and would not condescend so low as to be employed by a functionary of
            the Nigerian government. So I don’t know again the source of your misgivings.
            The Ibos in present day Nigerian government are the stooges of Hausa/Fulani
            oligarchy so I cannot begin to guesstimate their intentions or even speak for
            them. However, I would advise that you be more appreciative of the Ibos for we
            have made our intentions known- we want out of Nigeria. In April of this year
            you will learn of our resolve to rejuvenate our search for a separate identity
            for we see Nigeria and all it stands for as a draw back.

          • D.A

            Fair enough. I have many friends that are ibo’s and I have helped many ibo’s get interviews for jobs or connections in order to get into new fields.

            The Achebe furore made me take a step back. Most ibos (where ever they are and no matter their education) seems to believe that we the Yoruba were supposed to risk war on our territory by declaring Oduduwa republic because Ojukwu declared Biafra.

            They also think that because they think that they released Awolowo (which they did not) from jail that he was supposed to lead millions of his people on a journey of which they were not privy to and did not at that time support. A journey which would have turned the focus from a battle between the east and the North to a battle between the North and the West. The east and north were prior to the wart allies against the west. Ironsi did not release Awolowo. He was released by Gowon and promptly returned to Ikenne the day after. If he was released by Ojukwu without FG approval, he would have be re-arrested at Ikenne.

            Most ibos are now claiming to own Lagos. Many ibos live in Kano but you will never hear an ibo claim ownership of Kano! The problem of the ibos lie with their own attitude to people!

            Nigerians outside Nigeria have no time for tribal politics because they are all seen as black and treated accordingly. As a means of survival, they are forced to forget their ethnic differences and work together. The moment they return to Nigeria they remember their various tribes.

            On your quest for independence, the actions you espouse contradicts the actions of the ibos. They are busy moving everywhere by the SE. They are clamouring for another Niger bridge to facilitate the migration from east to west. A group that wants independence will be preparing for it. They would be relocating to the east, setting up business in the east
            and building homes in the east.

          • Col. MH Mariam.BA

            I too read Achebe’s book but failed to see where he deliberately maligned the Yoruba who are now up in arms against their best neighbours-the Igbo. It appears that the Yoruba have bottle up this hatred of the Igbo for too long ,looking for the slightest excuse to vent their frustration for reasons only connected to events of June 12, 1993 which had nothing to do with the Igbo.As far as I am concerned the Yoruba were absolutely wrong to assume that the Igbo should be at the forefront of the agitation for MKO Abiola’s mandate,knowing that the Yoruba would soon pull the carpet from under their feet as they are known to do. I suggest that you take up your internet fight with the North who are after-all the real culprits in the June 12 saga.FYI neither IBB nor Abacha happen to be Igbo the last time I checked.

          • D.A

            Under normal circumstances, I would ignore you. I will make a correction for the benefit of readers only. No Yoruba expected or harbours resentment towards the ibo because of June 12. The ibos (other than the ibos of Anambra) voted for Tofa anyway.


            We ourselves did not pull out of Nigeria in 1967 after the eastern region did so because it was not our fight and the war between the ibos and the north was of no concern to us.

            Our issue is the hatred espoused by Achebe and defended to the hilt by ibos. That issue was compounded by the evidence that the ibo heads of the army, aviation and immigration always ensured that the zone with the least hired staff of all geopolitical zones during their command always came from the SW! It is only the ibo that has the temerity to call our land no man’s land!

            We then decided that henceforth, your folk will not be allowed to have peace in our land and you will not!