Femi Akindele
by on May 12, 2020
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The Northern Governors’ Forum under the chairmanship of Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, had unanimously agreed to return all almajiris to their respective states of origin across the region. Thereby dousing a stone-blind into the legality and constitutionality of their action as to whether the decision is within the ambit of their power and in line with the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to forcibly return a citizen in their country as a measure to contain the spread of coronavirus.
This is not in any way an attempt to exonerate these boys’ parents from the carelessness and parental irresponsibility the almajiri children find themselves in their quest to acquire Islamic knowledge, but an attempt to highlight the constitutional wrongness and gross violation of citizens’ fundamental right to freedom of movement in his country. What does the constitution say?
Section 41 of the 1999 Constitution provides that “Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof, and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereby or exit therefrom.”
Also, Section 42 provides that “A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person – (a) be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religion or political opinion are not made subject.”
In light of the above constitutional provisions, it is clear that the “deportation” of the almajiri children is illegal, and therefore must be condemned in its totality. The almajiri children, given their options for survival and feeding such as begging, accepting other persons’ leftovers, handling waste disposals for people, are most vulnerable as the likelihood of their getting contact with infected persons as beggars who take whatever comes to them as food or support from those willing to give, expose them to the virus and could serve as potential carriers.
It’s noteworthy that three states in the North have already started implementing the decision with Kano State taking the lead, where it returned 419 almajiris to Katsina, 524 to Jigawa and 155 to Kaduna, totalling 1,098. Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State has returned 40 almajiris to Kebbi State while Benue State returned 17 to Bauchi and 42 to Katsina State.
The action of the governors hit Kaduna State hardest where it’s witnessing an exponential growth in the coronavirus cases given that over 50 “deportees” from Kano were tested positive for the disease in the state.
Is it not doing ourselves more harm than good by transporting these children given that some of them are already asymptomatic carriers of the virus while some were likely infected while in transit since they’re not tested in the state they were evacuated.
This is also coming when the Federal Government has been providing intervention funds and palliatives to the states. Is it not better in the truest sense of the word to isolate these children, get them tested and treat the positive cases instead of risking the spread of the pandemic to other states at a time when the Federal Government is deploying all instrumentality to stem the spread and ferocity of the virus?
What is the guarantee that the security of the almajiri children would be protected in their states of origin far better than the states they are? To this end, it must be understood that it is the collective responsibility of the entire northern governors to protect these children who are prone to contracting this dreaded virus. This is a collective war but the governors got it wrong. Whether we will survive this war or not defends on our fondest wish to take a collective responsibility to deal with this novel coronavius pandemic.
By Rabiu Musa
Source: https://punchng.com/almajiri-where-northern-governors-got-it-wrong/
Tags: almajiri
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