The governor of Ebonyi state, David Umahi, has accused his counterpart in Lagos of “illegally imprisonment” of over 180 Ebonyians allegedly caught hawking in the streets of lagos.
Umahi said this while addressing a delegation of indigenes of the state living in Anambra state at the government house, Abakaliki.
He expressed dismay that 180 Ebonyians were charged and convicted under a law that was promulgated after they were arrested.
The governor who spoke through his deputy Dr Kelechi Igwe said that the leadership of Ebonyi State Development Association, Lagos Branch, recently painted a gory picture of how indigenes of Ebonyi living in Lagos were being hounded and humiliated.
He said: “In some cases, they round up these boys who are hawking on the streets, pack them to prison and say they have contravened one offence or the other.
“A case in point was when about 180 persons of Ebonyi state extraction are held in prison in Lagos and their offence was that of street trading. The law they were charged under was a law that was promulgated after they were arrested and incarcerated.
“While they were in prison custody which some of them have spent two years, a law was enacted and they were charged under that law and sent to prison”, he lamented
He assured that the state would do everything possible to take Ebonyians off the streets of Lagos to ensure they were not victims of crimes committed by others.
Umahi noted further that his administration would interface with the lagos state counterpart to see how those who committed no crime would be released from prison unconditionally.
He asked the delegation to forward names of 300 Ebonyians resident in Anambra to be included in the ongoing youth and women empowerment of his administration with at least 20 persons from each of the 13 local government areas that make up the state.
The governor added that 130 tricycles would be procured and given to Ebonyi indigenes hawking in the streets of Anambra as part of the government’s efforts in uplifting the lives of Ebonyians living in Anambra.
He regretted that just like lagos, Ebonyians resident in Anambra were being associated with crimes even in cases where they were innocent just because they felt no one could speak for them.
He warned that his administration would no longer allow citizens of the state living in other parts of the country to be molested and maligned.
Umahi also urged citizens living in other states to come back home to obtain their INEC voters’ cards; assuring that government would take care of the cost of their transportation.