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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.

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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.”

READ ALSO: Oyetola silent as Osun indigene held captive in Lebanon suffers

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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Human trafficking: PJI  urges proper trauma management for returnees

The Pathfinder Justice Initiative (PJI), a Non-Governmental Organisation, has called for proper trauma care for migrant returnees to prevent them from becoming vulnerable to subsequent trafficking.

Evon Benson-Idahosa, the Executive Director, PJI, made the call at a Rehabilitation Workshop for Providers Serving Survivors of Human Trafficking held in Benin on Thursday.

The workshop was organised by PJI and funded by INSighT- Building Capacity to deal with human trafficking and transit routes to Nigeria, Italy and Sweden.

Benson-Idahosa said that a majority of returnee-migrants usually undergo different traumatic situations and needed to be properly rehabilitated before being integrated back into the society. She noted that if the migrant returnees were not properly rehabilitated, they would not be able to put into good use any form of skills acquisition or empowerment received.

“Providers serving survivors should know how to handle traumatised victims because many of them, especially females, have been raped and have gone through horrible experiences during their trafficking journey.

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“The providers should know that there are best practices in terms of handling trafficked victims; they need to use a survivor centred approach to prioritise the needs of the victims,” she said.

She called on the government at all levels to partner more with NGOs on providing best traumatic care for returned migrants in the country.

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How Nigerian-American police officer burst human trafficking syndicate in US

A retried Nigerian American Police officer, Samuel Balogun  narrated how he  burst a human trafficking syndicate that specialized in using minors for prostitution.

“My biggest accomplishment was bursting a human trafficking crime,” Balogun said.

Giving details of how he executed the task,  the dark skinned retired police officer said: “ There was a guy that was using minors for prostitution on the internet.  I have an accent and when I speak people know I am an African. So, I had to go undercover and had to call the guy on the internet.  I said ‘ hey! what is going on, I am in town. I am a truck driver and I want some girls.’ I asked  how old? He said the younger they are, the more money. I said about 15 to 16 years. He said ok.  I asked  how many he could bring and he replied two. He said which hotel was I and I gave the name to him. He told me to hang up and  he called back  the hotel. He subsequently called me and asked if I was there and I said yes. He said he would be there in 20 minutes.

“We were waiting for him to come but he was smart too. He dropped the girls down the street and made them walk to the room. The girls asked how much I was ready to pay and wanted to take off their clothes but I said not yet.  In the next room were officers listening to our conversation. When I make a signal, that means it is time for them to come in. but before you make the signal, you have to make sure they have mentioned the price, they have given the reason why they were there, so it doesn’t look like you are entrapping them.  When I made the signal, the officers burst in and arrested everybody including me.

Thereafter, Balogun said  the police  processed the girls and after that, “they said look, you are minors and we know somebody is pushing you to do this. Now we don’t want to arrest you but tell us how to get to the boss.  The girls cooperated and  made as if they were leaving. When the man pulled up to pick them up, and that was how we arrested  him. That stopped a lot of those crimes.”

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Balogun said he was in Nigeria to bring his wealth of experience to bear on the disturbing security situation in the country. “ I am trying to bring back  my experience as a  police officer in the states to Nigeria. When you look at the #endsars period, the performance of the police was something that hurt my feelings. How can we make it better? How can we make the police job something that people will look with respect  and want to join?”

He hinted that his  security firm is involved in training not only police officers but “ I also train private security companies. I am in touch with a lot of private security companies in Nigeria.  There is another concept which Nigeria is embracing right now.

“It is called community policing. In the states it is called neighbourhood policing or community policing. It works in a way that in every street, there would be a police officer that lives in that neighbourhood.   You get to know the people and the people know you. In some apartments, they will give you a discount just for the police officer to be there because they know once a police officer is living there, the police car is outside and the crime level will reduce. People are more likely to talk to that officer because they know him. They are more able to tell him’ hey we know who committed that crime.’  For every crime, you need people to tell you what happened. You can have all the gadgets but if people are not talking, you can’t solve the crime.”

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He further said: “I am training police officers, security companies and executive protection. What my security company is doing is to free the police officers from attachment to chiefs, politicians and all that.  We train civilians to represent those officers so that they can go back to the street and do their normal jobs.  We have what we call executive protection/training. We have people that follow the president.  We can train you on how to be efficient and sometimes using less force, description tactics.”

Further expatiating on what his security firm does, the soft spoken officer said: “What my company is trying to do is to bring people to the table.  We are trying to train companies that there is a better way of security where we can teach you how to defend yourself, how to prepare for any emergency, and how to use less force. I have a guy, a navy seal that worked for the United States of America. You will be amazed about what he can do. He can disarm you in a minute even when you come with AK 47.    I am also bringing Hostage Negotiation, people that can talk to you when ransom has to be paid. In the US, we call it Hostage Negotiation.  They can talk to these people, and know their psyche. It is a full package. When you come  to my firm, you can see the whole spectrum  and choose.”

As a vastly travelled person, Blagun said: “I travel a lot and in all the African nations is where you see officers with AK 47. They said it is more intimidating. Criminals use AK 47 in America too but we still don’t carry it.  Is that the right weapon for the police officers, I leave that question open. “

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On the attitude of the Nigerian authorities his plans, he said: “I have talked to a lot of people in higher positions. In some places I don’t want to mention, I have got good responses.  My firm has done some things with certain private firms and the police. I have dealt with some highly placed security firms. So, this is not my first time here.  We are   looking at having training in Sheraton around July/August this year. It is going to be a big one. I am bringing a retired FBI agent, a navy seal, a retired marine , myself and may be two other officers.

“This is my country, I am proud of it. I am sad sometimes when you look at the security aspect of it.  With my experience, I am trying to make it a better place.  It has always been my passion to come back home. I am retired and don’t really need to work again. My benefits are okay untill I die.  But why die with all this experience when I can pass it to the next person.”

 

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Hundreds of thousands of people leave Britain due to pandemic

 

Hundreds of thousands of people have left Britain as a fallout  of the pandemic on the economy, according to a study released yesterday.

There is an “unprecedented exodus” of workers born outside Britain, researchers at London’s Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence said.

“It seems that much of the burden of job losses during the pandemic has fallen on non-UK workers and has manifested itself in return migration, rather than unemployment,” said the authors.

The study is based on labour market data.

The trend was particularly notable in London, where one in five residents was born abroad.

The capital’s population has fallen by 700,000, the study said, adding that nationwide, the figure could be more than 1.3 million.

If these numbers are accurate, this is the largest decline in Britain’s population since World War II, according to the study.

No evidence suggests that similar numbers of British people who live abroad are returning to Britain.

However, this could be a temporary trend, the researchers said, noting that workers from abroad might return after the pandemic.

The British economy depends on workers from abroad and it is not only threatened by migration due to the pandemic.

Many industries fear the loss of skilled workers due to Britain’s departure from the European Union and stricter migration laws.

A further trend in 2021 is also causing concern, described as a “baby bust” by consultancy PwC, which said many couples were postponing having children due to the uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

This could lead to the lowest birth rate since 1900, PwC said in early January.

READ  Without safe migration, economic recovery will be limited

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