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Homecoming agony (2): Concern over how deported sick migrants, ex-convicts are managed

By Innocent Duru

 

Homecoming agony

On August 19, this year, Germany deported a crop of Nigerian migrants who had gone to the European country to seek greener pastures. Among the deportees, according to Nigerian envoy to Germany, Peter Lambat, were some convicts who had finished serving prison terms for committing violent crimes. The deportees also included sick people who came back with heaps of medications given to them by physicians in Germany.

Surprisingly, none of the deportees was subjected to any check by the Nigerian authorities as they were secretly whisked out of the airport. The denial by the Nigeria Immigration Service that the deportation took place apparently shows that the system is porous and prone to allowing deportees find their ways into the society without minding their health conditions and criminal records and the attendant implications for the country.

Findings showed that what happened on that very day was a usual practice, especially when it affects deportees and expelled migrants. One of the August 19 deportees, Mike, who said he was nursing health challenges before his deportation, said no government agency attended to them when they arrived. “No government agency came to say anything to us. We were only welcomed by Nigerian Immigration Service officials on arrival.

They said: “Welcome home brothers and sisters” and that was all. I wanted to even report what I experienced in the hands of the Nigerian Embassy over there but a lady I met said I should explain to one oga. “When I met the man, he said I should go and explain to one man over there. They kept tossing me around and I said, ‘What is going on?’ At the end, they said I should put it in writing and send it to Abuja. I feel disappointed about the attitude of the immigration officers.

I left Nigeria several years ago and I’m sad that I came back to see it in a very bad situation. “Inside the plane, there was a guy who was sick and was being given injections by the doctor attached to him. While we were still in Germany, we heard that a guy on a wheelchair was deported in July and was frustrated at the airport for three days because none of his relations was aware of his arrival,” he said. Esther, a migrant who was deported on July 25, this year, also said she was nursing health challenges before her deportation but got no attention on return to the country.

She told The Nation that her health challenges assumed a worrisome dimension when she arrived the country, adding: “I can’t even explain what they gave to my son and because from that very day, we started vomiting and stooling. My son is still having some challenges now.” An airport worker, who identified himself simply Emma, said many deportees dumped outside the airport are always exhibiting all manners of health challenges. “When you see some of these people, you will pity them because aside from psychological challenges which they expectedly manifest, you will see a number of them showing disturbing signs of ill-health. We have seen those with mental challenges abandoned here, and also seen some with other with visible health problems too loitering here because they had nowhere to go. “Allowing these people to just find their ways into the society has grave implications.

READ  NIgeria's human trafficking fact sheet by Pathfinders

Some of them could have contagious health issues that could affect innocent citizens. Those who were into all manners of criminality will easily go back to it on arrival because they have nothing to fall back on.” Another worker at the airport, who gave his name as Ohens, described the system at the arrival point as too loose. “ The attitude of Nigerian authorities towards deportees and expelled migrants is always horrible.

Most of the deportees are brought in and moved out of the airport quietly. They are always dumped outside the Hajj Camp from where they were expected to find their ways to their various homes and relations. “The immigration service doesn’t subject them to checks to know if they have sicknesses or have criminal records. This has a grave implication because those who have serious health issues could spread it.

Those who have not so much money could go home and die in the long run if they do not have the means to take care of themselves.” The Director of the Centre for Youth Integrated Development, Aihawu Victo, also frowned at the development. “Most of these people didn’t leave this country as criminals, drug addicts or rapists. They developed those characters over there and Nigeria is just receiving them without proper monitoring. Nobody monitors them; when they enter the country they disappear and that is all,” he said.

Retired Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Abubarkar Tsav, said it is dangerous to allow deportees with criminal records to find their ways into the society without checks. His words: “Deportees who have criminal records should be kept in custody when they come before they are released into the society. When they come with that mentality, they contaminate this area again.

They would continue with their crime.” For those who have already found their ways into the society, Tsav said, the government could still do something to arrest the situation. “What government should do about those who have found their way into the society is to try and inquire about their lives. If there is need to rehabilitate them, they should do so. Definitely, they must need some rehabilitation. Why should the country not accept them when they return? They are our people. It is only if they have no passport that they can be denied entry into the country.”

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A medical expert and principal partner of Kamyk Clinic, Dr Monsurat Kadri, said the development portends grave health risks to The Nation. “ There are lots of implications when deportees are allowed to enter the society unchecked. The most important is the spread of infections such as tuberculosis, Hepatitis, HIV, among others. Apart from infections, we also talk of lifestyle influence. Most of these deportees might have committed offences and incarcerated in inhuman conditions which may affect the way they relate with the society if they are allowed to enter the community without screening or rehabilitation. They need psychological and physical rehabilitation. As a result of their experiences, they pry on innocent citizens and may actually corrupt the young ones by recruiting as their foot soldiers.

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The innocent young ones may only be carried away by the fact that the deportees came back from abroad. The deportees could also constitute economic burdens as they have no jobs and accommodation. They also serve as security risks as they are not quarantined and cannot be traced. Government will have to have a database for whoever is deported. They should be screened for diseases, quarantined and rehabilitated before they are reintegrated back to the society. The government should also provide training and empowerment for them so that they can engage in something meaningful to make both ends meet. .

NDLEA, Immigration, NCFRMI react

National spokesperson of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Sunday James, in a telephone chat with The Nation, said the service has never failed in its responsibility of giving the needed attention to deportees and others coming into the country. “When people are deported, they come to the immigration and we refer them to the appropriate quarters. If it is an EFCCrelated issue, we refer them and if it is drug-related issue we send them to the NDLEA.

The quarantine workers are there at the airport to attend to the people on arrival. “The same way they check ebola, that is how they check people coming in. it is only when the officials are not there we can quickly call their attention that they need to be on ground. But I don’t think they can desert their duty for any reasons. “The deportees are Nigerians and they would be rehabilitated.

Definitely, the government would always take care of them and rehabilitate them. You can’t refuse them coming back to their country. It is just like you going back to your father’s house. Nobody can stop you from going to your father’s house just because you are sick.” In a separate telephone chat, the national spokesman of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA., Jonah Achema, said the agency has from time to time had deportees with drug cases referred to it. ”We have deportees referred to us on a regular basis.

They are arrested abroad not necessarily because they moved drugs from Nigeria to those places. They are arrested because they went into drugrelated activities while in those countries. “Each time they are arrested, they are made to serve a jail term and then returned to Nigeria. Sending them to us is for us to document them and keep tab on their activities thereafter.

There is this argument that they should be tried in Nigeria again but there is this international human rights policy of double jeopardy, where one doesn’t need to serve jail term twice for a single offence. “Once they are deported, we keep tab on their activities to ensure that they are no longer continuing with their criminal activities. I can assure you that they are always in good numbers. We refer to this as an equal opportunity criminality. “Incidentally some of them go under the guise of studying abroad. As I am talking to you, we have what we call visa clearance strategy.

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As you are travelling abroad to study, we would screen you. Before you are even granted visa, we would screen you, ask for guarantors who must be responsible people in the society and who ordinarily would not subscribe to somebody going abroad to commit crime. “There is nobody who has passed through strategy that has been found wanting.

I can tell you that over 5, 000 to 6, 000 visa applicants have to pass through us, especially as it affects about 15 countries that we have memorandum of understanding with to that effect. When deportees referred to us for drug cases come, they stay with us for a day or two.” The Director, Refugee and Migrants at the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and IDPs, Hamidu Lawal, also gave details of how the organsation works with sister organisations to attend to deportees.

“If you are talking about deportation, it always has to do with criminal offences. If they have criminal history, They would be incarcerated in the place they are coming from; when they are coming here, their names and other details would be communicated to Nigeria and then, other records would follow. . “It is not a matter of dumping them here. Medical checks are also done. If people have health issues that are deemed to be serious, they would not be deported. We have a system to save this people.

We have all stakeholders, including health officials, immigration, and others are always there to receive them. “We have different categories of people coming back. We have deportees; there are returnees and there are evacuees and we have different people seeing them. It is against the law to bring back people with serious health challenges. But if it is something that is manageable, you will come with the history and we would take over here.

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Nigerians in Spain say no to genocide

Nigerians resident in Spain have kicked against bad governance and brutalitalisation of innocent citizens by security operatives in Nigeria.

They are in solidarity with the #Endsars protesters.

The #Endsars protest  started by young Nigerians to say no to brutality, impunity and gruesome killings in the hands of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the government in the country saw security operatives using live bullets on the protesters last week, October 21, 2020.

In a statement signed by Afolabi Oloko, the Nigerians in Spain said: “In every part  of the world, including Nigeria, we believe protesting is a fundamental right of all citizenry that we can exercise whenever we deem it fit as long as it is civil and devoid of violence but such is not the case in Nigeria where the young future of the country are murdered by their very own government just because they made demands that there must be a reform to the notorious Police department and that the country be reformed in general. Have they asked for too much from a responsible and responsive government?

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“It is so disheartening that after Ten days that the youth refused to back down they resorted to killing, maiming of their own future generations just because they asked and begged for good governance and good policing. It’s a shame that young people are being killed all around the cities of Nigeria from Lagos, Abeokuta, Ibadan, Abuja, Ondo , Benin, Porthacort just to mention a few. It was horrendous seeing over seventy people being murdered at night while still protesting unarmed peacefully in Lekki area of Lagos state. They organised by switching off the street light while they carried out their evil deed against defenceless young people of the country and also took away the CCTV. The commander-in-chief of the Armed forces in person of President Muhamodu Buhari must be tried at the International court for genocide against it’s own people.

“We the compatriots far away in Spain are with our young brothers and sister on the streets saying no to bad governance as you’re in our hearts and prayers. We support you in the just cause you’re are fighting. Fighting for one’s future should not be seen as an affront to the authorities, rather they should look inward and realise that the system is rotten and should be cleansed but not killing innocent young men on the streets with Army being deployed to take lives of vibrant and resourceful, frustrated and change hungry citizens.
“Today, we came out in multitude in solidarity with our compatriots back home to say #ENDSARS! #ENDBADGOVERNANCE #ENDPOLICEBRUTALITY #ENDCORUPTION #ENDTHEGENOCIDE”

READ  NIgeria's human trafficking fact sheet by Pathfinders

 

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ILO, IOM sign agreement to strengthen collaboration on migration governance

The International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) today signed an Agreement to create a framework for cooperation and collaboration to enhance the benefits of migration for all.

The framework includes joint support for improved migration governance, capacity building and policy coherence at national, regional and global levels. Other areas of work may also be developed.

The Agreement was signed by Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General, and António Vitorino, the IOM Director-General, on Friday at the ILO Headquarters in Geneva.

Speaking after the signing ceremony, Ryder said, “this Agreement seals an important alliance between our two organizations. Together, we will be stronger and more effective in both fulfilling our individual mandates and in collaborating on areas that are crucial for reshaping the world of work so that it is more inclusive, equitable and sustainable.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic is having a brutal impact on economies and societies. Vulnerable groups, particularly migrant workers and their families, are being disproportionately hit. There could be no better time to reinforce our partnership and combine our strengths, so that we can help countries and our constituents build back for a better future.”

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DG Vitorino said, “the agreement that we are signing today will help us further solidify our collaboration at the time when joint solutions are so much needed, with a pandemic that is hitting the most vulnerable the hardest. As we move towards post-pandemic recovery, we fully embrace the call to build a better world together, tapping into the added value of each partner. With ILO, we have much to co-create and we look forward to future cooperation within the broader UN family, with our partner governments, private sector and civil society.”

The new ILO-IOM Agreement builds on the agencies’ comparative advantages, expertise, and respective constituencies. By encouraging joint initiatives, the Agreement aims to strengthen international migration governance and boost cooperation, capacity building and joint advocacy to promote migrants’ rights and decent work opportunities.

By encouraging social dialogue, it will allow workers` and employers` organizations – who sit equally with governments in the ILO’s tripartite membership structure – to contribute to policy discussions.

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A workplan will be developed in the next six months to push forward the collaboration at global, regional and country levels and, more importantly, facilitate the implementation of the Agreement in the field, where both agencies are working directly with affected populations.

It will seek to enhance the agencies joint contribution to their member states, UN country teams, and societies to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Agreement will also allow the ILO and IOM to strengthen support for their respective constituencies in implementing the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration (GCM), and contribute to other global and regional migration policy fora and debates.

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Stop enslavement of Africans in other continents- Experts tell African leaders

The second international migration summit by the Journalists International Forum For Migration (JIFORM) ended on Friday, October 16, 2020,  at the Pensioners FM, Ibadan, Oyo State, with a call to  African leaders to deliver good governance to halt continued enslavement of the Africans in other continents through irregular migration.

The conference themed: Migration governance and media strategy for development   with physical and virtual presentations was attended by hundreds of journalists and other participants across the world.

President of JIFORM, Ajibola Abayomi, in his remark after signing a memorandum of understanding with the Diaspora Innovation Institute (DII), US, on training and investment opportunities for journalists, said the global media body with over 200 journalists spread across the continents as parts of the fallouts of the summit would produce glossary of terminologies for over 10,000 journalists and media houses beyond Africa.

Speaking at the occasion, Governor Oluwaseyi Makinde of Oyo State hailed JIFORM’s  advocacy and identified poverty as the root cause of irregular migration pledging commitment to reverse the tide through good governance.

Represented by Barrister Olubunmi Ogunniran, Director General of Legal Administration, Oyo State Ministry of Justice, the governor said apart from rescuing trafficked indigenes of the state abroad and creating diaspora unit, he had inaugurated a task force against human trafficking, sexual offenders with prosecute department and further engagement of the youths through economic activities.

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Minister of Labour Sierra Leone, Mr Alpha Timbo; Ghana Ambassador to Egypt, Lebanon and Sudan, Nii Okai Hammond, and the United Nations Youth Ambassador (Ghana), Lilian Addo, all praised what they tagged courageous movement by JIFORM and promised to support the body in its quest to further spread its advocacies.

Chairman of the summit, Patrick Lumumba,  rued the faulty labour and trade laws in Africa limiting development and called on the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) for ntervention to remove migration barriers causing undue frictions between Ghana and Nigeria ditto for the African Union to end the xenophobic attacks in South Africa against other African nationals.

He blamed the crisis on misapplication of resources and corruption among African leaders and urged them to retrace their steps to save the youths from desperate migration to other continents through the desert and the Mediterranean Sea.

Chairman of House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora Matters, Tolulope Akande-Sadipe lauded JIFORM’s efforts to eradicate irregular migration and vowed to rescue and end the suffering of stranded Nigerians lured through human trafficking to the Middle East and other Arabian nations through collaborations.

READ  NIgeria's human trafficking fact sheet by Pathfinders

Member of African Union Advisory Committee on Labour Migration, (Ghana) Dr Princess Ocansey urged the African nations to end the Kafala bilateral agreement entered into with some Middle East countres that permitted the en-slavery of mostly African women.

“African leaders must wake up to save the youths from deadly work they are being subjected and replace that with decent work. The Kafala system is a shame and very dehumanizing” she said.

Former Canada Minister of Immigration, Gerry Weiner while delivering his presentation urged the African youths to acquit themselves with the right processes to tap into numerous diaspora opportunities in Canada and elsewhere.

Weiner, who had 12 years working experience in Africa, said only safe and regular migration, would guarantee the actualization of the desire to be part of  economic activities in the world.

The summit had participation from several international speaker that Prince Akin Ojomo from DII; included Johanna Mac from Erich Brost Institute, Germany; Barrister Samuel Adeusi and Ms Omotola Fawunmi both from the US; International Organization for Migration (IOM), Nigeria and Gambia; Rescue African Mission; Synergy Rescue Mission; ThisLebanon Lebanon; Nigerians In Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM); National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons (NAPTIP); Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS); Ghana Immigration Service; Diaspora Innovation Institute, New York, America; and Ghana Immigration Service.

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