The group of Togolese came to Nigeria in July after Benin Republic, which had hosted them for nearly a decade, stripped them of refugee status.
Sogbo Maonou, who was among those deported, said Nigerian soldiers loaded them onto buses in Lagos on Saturday and drove them to Togo through Benin Republic.
Brigitte Eno, deputy representative for the U.N. Refugee agency in Nigeria, said the group should have been counselled before being repatriated.
“They were supposed to be informed individually and counselled but immigration did it their own way,” Eno said adding: “We were not even aware of the fact they were being put on buses.”
General Manager of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency Michael Akindele, said due process was followed, they were all interviewed but their requests for asylum were rejected.
Many of the Togolese asylum seekers claim they face repression at home, having fled political violence after the 2005 election.
Some said they witnessed family members being arrested and killed by the military because of their support for the opposition.
Amnesty International reported in February that Togo sometimes tortures detainees. Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbe was reelected in April after succeeding his father in the 2005 elections marred by violence and rigging to perpetuate a family dynasty that has ruled for nearly 50 years.
The asylum seekers were spotted on Awolowo Road in Lagos in August, close to the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants, and Internally Displaced Person, NCFRMI, office.
The refugees were registered by NCFRMI officials.
But the Lagos State Government which provided them with temporary shelter, urged the Federal Government to prevail on its agencies to repatriate back to their country the illegal immigrants who took refuge at the state’s Emergency Resettlement Centres (ERCs) in Igando, Alimosho Local Government area and Agbowa, Ikorodu.
Secretary to the State Government Mr. Tunji Bello said the government could no longer continue to accommodate the illegal immigrants due to the enormous pressure put on the ERCs at Igando and Agbowa facilities.
Bello explained after the Togolese nationals were sighted at Awolowo Road, Ikoyi “Immediately Governor Akinwunmi Ambode was informed of their illegal presence, he promptly directed that the relevant state agency should take up responsibility of accommodating them, initially at the Emergency Relief Camp (ERC) in Igando and later at its camp in Agbowa, Ikorodu,” he said.
Bello added: “As at today, the number of Togolese illegal immigrants has increased from 114 to 199, putting serious pressure on the limited spaces at the two camps.”
He pointed out that the Togolese immigrants were expelled from Benin Republic where they had lived for over 10 years.
“They came to Nigeria, Lagos to be precise, and because of the accommodation provided by the state government at its ERCs, those illegal immigrants at the Igando camp started calling others on telephone in Benin Republic to come to Nigeria, telling them that they now have a new home. As at the Weekend, another 85 illegal immigrants of same Togolese descent were taken to ERC, Agbowa.
“The state has discovered that many of them smuggle their ways through the Nigeria borders,” he said. -Nigerianeye