Despite the interstate travel ban in Nigeria, many Almajiri children have been relocating to various states across the country, a situation that Igbo groups have lamented.
The highest Igbo socio-cultural organisations, the Ohaneze Ndigbo, the Igbo National Council (INC) and the Anambra State Association of Town Unions (ASATU), lamented the increasing relocation of the Almajirai to the Southeast, as they called for it to stop.
The groups accused security agencies of complicity in the free movement of the Almajirai, which they said makes a mockery of the interstate travel ban.
The Igbo National Council, INC, described the relocation of the Amajirai to the Southeast as an assault on the Ndigbo, The Nation reports.
ASATU National President Chief Alex Onukwue, also wondered why the Almajirai were moving to the Southeast rather than returning to their states of origin. He said;
“On behalf of all the communities of Anambra State, we express our disgust and total disappointment with ongoing wicked efforts by some desperate citizens, who are engaged in the wicked act of shipping strange persons from Northern Nigeria to the South, Anambra State and the Southeast inclusive.
“We wish to warn that should this callous business of shipping strange persons continue, Almajirai or not, from the North or elsewhere to Anambra State in light of COVID-19 restrictions, the communities of Anambra State will be left with no choice than to confront the situation with all the seriousness it deserves. We can no longer take it as child’s play.
“Whosoever that is or are behind this wickedness must refrain from doing so immediately as the communities of Anambra State can no longer fold our hands and watch on as our lives are being threatened by the mischievous inclinations of some unpatriotic citizens who can go as far as hiding human beings between animals and bags of cement or whatever and smuggle them from the Northern parts of the country down to Anambra State and the Southeast.”
The Paediatric Association of Nigeria (PAN) expressed concern over the treatment of the Almajiri.
The association, in a statement by its President and Secretary Prof Edward Alikor and Dr Petronila Tabansi, said the Almajirai were at risk of COVID-19 infection and transmission.
It said reports that some of the Almajirai were rejected by their states of origin and forced to return to where they came from was condemnable.