KOKOROKO

IMMIGRATION RAIDS IN LAGOS MUST STOP

Many Africans injured in the immigration raids. When is the African Union going to start issuing African passports to avoid a nasty repeat of this drama.

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — The buses crammed full of young men leave each afternoon from this busy market in Nigeria’s largest city, some with bruises around their faces and cuts on their arms.

A series of raids by Nigerian authorities in recent days has brought fear to Katangua Market in Lagos, where immigrant labor makes the market thrum amid piles of secondhand clothes, shoes, purses and other accessories that are laid along narrow dirt alleyways. Immigrant workers, who come largely from neighboring Niger to the north, are finding themselves targeted by security agencies anxious about a growing Islamic extremist insurgency in northern Nigeria that could spread southward.

Nigeria’s porous borders and corrupt bureaucracy allow people to enter the country, giving extremists the chance to freely move and avoid capture. But those same borders give those living in poverty in neighboring countries a chance to earn money. Now even immigrants with proper travel documents worry they’ll be rounded up as well.

“If they come here and arrest me and I don’t have my papers, I don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Abdu Tanimu, a leader of Nigeriens working in the market. “I don’t know what’s going on out there.”

Immigration raids have happened before and even have a place in the slang of oil-rich Nigeria, home to more than 160 million people. The colorful recycled plastic bags carried by travelers in the region are known as “Ghana-Must-Go,” a reference to when Nigeria kicked out Ghanaians and other immigrants in 1983 as oil prices collapsed and the country’s economy cratered.ImageImageImage

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