ABUJA (30 April 2020) – The under-listed civil society organizations and activists working under Human Rights Agenda Network (HRAN) condemn the on-going forced movement of Almajiris by some states in Northern Nigeria by deporting them to their states of origin.
The deportation of the Almajiris is illegal and unconstitutional because every Nigerian, irrespective of his or her status, is entitled to the full enjoyment of the fundamental human rights in the Constitution. Section 41 of the 1999 Constitution guarantees the right of every Nigerian to reside anywhere in the country.
A citizen cannot be deported from his/her own country. It is a gross violation of his/her right as a citizen. It is unlawful for the government of any state to forcefully deport or move any person or group from one state to another against their will.
It is unconscionable that the governments of the concerned states who are supposed to take care of the education and welfare of the Almajiris are maltreating them. The Almajiri phenomenon is purely a result of failure of governance. These children are entitled to their constitutional right to free and compulsory primary and secondary education. Rather than carry out their constitutional duty of providing for the security and welfare of the people, Northern state governors in particular, have allowed Almajiris roam the streets, exposing them to exploitation.
HRAN warns that the continued dehumanizing of these children, will have far reaching security implications for those states in particular and the entire country in general. Nigeria has an obligation to adequately protect and promote the rights of a child under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child, duly domesticated in the Child Rights Act.
It is our belief, that rather than bandying the Almajiri system as currently administered, Northern state governments should standardize the school system to compete with their counterparts in countries such as Egypt, Malaysia, Pakistan, and UAE. We call on them to ensure that these children do not remain on the streets without care or sustenance, or exposed to violations, resulting from the governments’ inadequacies.
These forced movements constitute violations of their right to respect for the dignity of their persons guaranteed under section 34 of the 1999 Constitution and the right to personal liberty protected under section 35 of the Constitution. Also, targeting the Almajiris as a social group for deportation is a violation of their right to protection against discrimination, which is provided under section 42 of the 1999 Constitution and Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act.
The forced movement of the Almajiris from one state to another is a major public health risk in the context of Covid19 pandemic. The Governors of the Northern states claim that the deportation of the Almajaris is to curb the spread of Covid19 and enforcement of the lockdown orders in the states. On the contrary, the deportation from a state with Covid19 cases such as Kano State without prior testing and isolation, portends grave risks in the spread of the virus across states. Instructively, the five (5) new cases reported in Kaduna few days ago by NCDC, were Almajiri deportees from Kano state.
HRAN urges the governments of these states to put an immediate end to further illegal movement or deportation of people, especially Almajiris and put measures in place to cater for their needs, skillfully equip them, so they can become productive citizens in the future.
- Human Rights Agenda Network
- Access to Justice
- Carmelite Prisoner’s Interest Organization (CAPIO)
- Legal Defence and Assistance Project
- Prison Inmate Development Initiative (PIDI)
- Child Rights Protection Initiative (CRPI)
- Foundation for Environmental Rights, Advocacy & Development (FENRAD)
- Justice for Peace and Development Initiative
- Legal Resources Consortium
- Network for Justice, Kano
- Socio Economic Rights Initiative (SERI)
- Women Africa
Women Rights Advanc