BY INNOCENT DURU
The Nation Newspaper’s intervention saved three female migrants and two of their children deported from Germany on Monday from another round of frustration. The distraught deportees were stranded at the Murtala Mohammed Airport and hopeless about what next to do with their lives but a light appeared at the end of the tunnel for them. INNOCENT DURU, who has been following the secret and inhuman conditions under which Nigerian migrants are deported by Germany, reports how this newspaper ended the miseries of the embattled deportees.
“I am frustrated. If I leave here now, I don’t even know where I am going to because when I was in Germany, my husband’s relations I left two children with, if they needed ordinary N500, they would call me. Is that the kind of people I would go and stay with?
“My grandmother is over 100 years old; my father is also going to 90 years. I don’t have a family to stay with. That is the problem I have and that is why I am crying. I don’t have any hope right now. It is someone who has money that has hope.”
That was the lamentation of Stella, one of the fresh set of Nigerian migrants deported by Germany.She wore a depressing look with her eyes red and swollen as a result of bemoaning the fate that befell her and the uncertainty of what awaits her here in Nigeria.
Her buxom daughter, who had planned to celebrate her birthday with her German school mates on Wednesday, continuously looked round in bewilderment as she tried to figure out the strange environment she had found herself.
The deportees were dealt the first blow at the airport when officials of the Nigerian Immigration Service only took their data, bundled them into a bus and dumped them outside the airport without caring about their welfare and if they had money to go home or even means of reaching out to their relations.
“When we arrived Murtala Mohammed Airport, Nigerian Immigration officers welcomed us. They wrote our names and where we came from and that was all. They didn’t give us a dime to go to our houses and neither gave us food nor water,” Stella said in tears.
Her allegations were corroborated by another deportee, who identified herself simply as Nelta. She said: “When we got to the airport, the Nigeria Immigration Service officials called Number 9 (my number on the list) and asked for my name. I told them Nelta.
“They asked me to walk straight to a box and asked me to fill a form. After filling the form, they asked us to enter into a waiting bus and dropped us outside the airport without giving us any assistance. No other government officials came to counsel or say anything to us. We were just thrown out like bath water. I don’t know where I am going from here.”
Activists rally round deportees
Prior to the arrival of the deportees, a Germany based activist, Rex Osa, had alerted our correspondent about the exercise. Besides, knowing the attitude of the Nigerian system to deportees, Rex, who is the co-ordination activist for Network 4Refugees, a political platform for refugees/migrant self-organisation based in Stuttgart, Germany, had made arrangements with a Nigerian partner and Executive Director of Super Mum Charity Initiative, Tolu Ayotade, to provide accommodation and necessary assistance for as many deportees that would be stranded.
Of all the deportees, it was only three who gave attention to Tolu. They were subsequently accommodated at a hotel in Ajao Estate, Aiport Road to calm their frayed nerves.
With support from our correspondent and an ally of Rex, the deportees were provided with food , water and drink.
Where next after the night accommodation?Overwhelmed by the heart-rending lamentations of the deportees about how they would cope after leaving the hotel, our correspondent reached out to the Nigerian Immigration Service Public Relations Officer at the Murtala Mohammed Airport to know if they were aware of the deportation and what help they would render to such people. He picked the calls and ended it when he was informed about the purpose.
He subsequently sent a message saying that he was in a meeting and would call back. The service had earlier denied previous deportations.
The Nation thereafter called the national spokesmen of the service, Sunday James, who said he wasn’t aware of the deportation. When our correspondent pushed further, he demanded to have the pictures of the deportees to confirm that the matter was true.
With the permission of the deportees, their pictures where taken and forwarded to the NIS national image maker.
He thereafter demanded to know the number of the deportees, the country they came from, when they came and the time they arrived. Our correspondent provided all that.
After receiving the message, James promised to relay it to the comptroller for necessary actions but that was the last that was heard from the service.
The Murtala Mohammed spokesman of the service, Edet, later called back at 9pm to confirm the deportation. “Twenty-six people were deported from Germany today,” he said. Asked to provide further details of the demography of the deportees, he promised to check with his officers and call back to provide the answer but he never did.
Seeing the heightening tension on the faces of the deportees, The Nation reached out to the Director, Refugee and Migrants at the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and IDPs, in Abuja, Hamidu Lawal. Lawal immediately got in touch with the head of the Lagos office, Margaret, who requested that the deportees should be brought to their office the following day.
End comes for deportees’ plight
The next day, Tuesday to be precise, our correspondent early in the morning returned to the hotel. The deportees’ countenance had improved compared to what it was when they arrived. Tolu, the Supermum Charity Initiative boss who was supposed to be part of the journey, had had her sickness compounded by the stress she passed through running around to assist the deportees the previous day. She was taken to the hospital after vomiting and collapsing.
Seriously concerned about the plight of the deportees, Margret, the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and IDPs boss in Lagos gave directions on how to get to the office and the officer to meet as she was out on official assignment.
Getting to the office in a chattered taxi, our correspondent met with the Head Migration Unit , South West Zone, Alexander Oturu, who allayed the fears of the deportees and assured them that they would be counselled, accommodated in the commission’s shelter, fed, provided their basic needs and trained in any vocation of their choice. Elated by the humanitarian gesture of our correspondent, the commission assured that it will settle all expenses incurred in the course of assisting the deportees.
The deportees heaved a sigh of relief at the development. The misery on their faces faded away as they watched their children gamboling around the office.
Deportees relive ordeal with German authorities
Narrating how she was deported, Stella said: “I was coming back from church on Sunday when a neighbour called to tell me that policemen numbering about 30 came to my house. I asked her why they were looking for me because I didn’t offend them.
“The neighbour just told me they were looking for me. As I was about taking a train to Munich, I saw a bus coming and I told my daughter that, that should be the police. They pulled up by my side and asked to confirm if I am the one.
“Thereafter, they asked for my advice(a document) . I gave it to them and immediately, they said I was going to Frankfurt. They first of all took me to my house and asked me to park my things.
“I told them that before I would park my things, I would have to call my husband to ask him to come and take my daughter but they refused. They collected my phones and didn’t give them back to me until we arrived at the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos.”
Without considering her status as a married woman, she further explained how the German officials allegedly rough-handled her. “As we were engaging in the discussion, they handcuffed me and took me to Frankfurt with my daughter. We only came back with a hand bag and the clothes we were putting on. A whole me , coming back to Nigeria without a dime in my pocket.
“They handcuffed me from Germany till we got to Lagos. Aside from the handcuff, they used belt to tie my stomach and hand. It was when we wanted to come down from the plane that they released me. My daughter cried all the way from Frankfurt to Lagos seeing me in chains.
“My concern is about my daughter. I took her out of this country when she was just four months old. What would she be doing here? She speaks German and how long will it take her to learn Yoruba or adapt to the situation in Nigerian school? It could take her as much as two to three years before she would adjust. I am confused and tired. I don’t even know what to do.”
The daughter, in an emotion-laden voice, condemned the treatment meted out to her mother. “They put handcuff on my mummy. I don’t know why they did that. I felt bad and cried all through the journey.
“The German officials gave me chips, bread and chocolate. In spite of that, I didn’t feel happy seeing mummy in that condition. I still want to go back to Germany but I don’t want my mummy handcuffed again.”
The deportation was still like a dream to Nelta, who intermittently asked rhetorically if it was true that she is in Nigeria. “Are we in Lagos? It’s like I am in slumber. It’s like I am dreaming. I left for Germany in 2015 from Libya. I got to Libya in 2011 and left when Ghaddaffi was killed. I went to school in Germany up to a year studying their language.
“After leaving the camp where they always keep refugees, they kept mr in in an apartment but I found out that the wall was getting spoilt. I complained and they took me out. Since then, I was in the camp. Life in the camp was another matter entirely. There was too much crowd and there was no privacy. You have to use your brain in all you do.”
Recalling how she was arrested, Nelta said: “ I was at home on Sunday when more than 10 policemen came around 10am. I was about going to bed then and was only wearing a ‘nighty’ without bra when they barged into me. It was not up to two hours after I finished cooking and trying to rest when they came in. They parked a few things for me, and handcuffed me while holding me down. I was just screaming and asking why they were doing all that to me.
“Still tying me inhumanly, they were telling me to calm down. I subsequently saw myself at the airport; there at their airport, they removed the handcuff and asked me to pull my cloth because they needed to check my system to be sure that nothing was wrong with me. When I persisted in asking why they were doing all that to me, they said I was going back to Nigeria. I then asked if that was enough for them to subject me to all that bestial treatment and they said they were sorry for the assault and kept telling me that I should be calm.”
It was also a distasteful experience for Blessing, who was deported with her daughter.
“I went to Germany from Italy. I was in Italy from 2011 to 2016. It was when I was pregnant that my husband asked me to go to Germany. I had problems with the German authorities because of the document I was given to enter the country. The immigration officers here collected the document and told me it was not genuine and asked me to pay some money. I paid 100 Euro and got a lawyer. They thereafter detained me for six hours. I was taken from Colone to Bourne; Bourne again took me back to Colone. I was expecting to come back to Nigeria or Italy but they didn’t agree.
“In the accommodation that they gave me, they gave me a condition that no man must come and visit me, not even my husband. I agreed because he was not in Germany. When my husband attempted to come, they arrested him and deported him. Yes, when my husband came from Italy to visit us, they arrested and deported him insisting that he would not see us. They placed three officers around me throughout the trip back home.”
At about 1am on Monday, the slim built mother said: “ My baby had a bang on the door and called ‘Mummy! Mummy! Mummy!’ I asked if she was the one knocking the door, she said no and added that somebody was knocking. The policemen kept quiet and were listening. When I opened the door, I saw more than six officers looking like ghosts by that odd hours of the day.
“They tied so many guns around their waists as if they were chasing criminals.
When I asked them what the matter was, they said: ‘Blessing, good morning; we are taking you back to Nigeria’. I said: ‘Really? Oh! Thank you Jesus’.
They were shocked. I didn’t really know what came over me, as I had packed my baby’s things the previous night. They asked me to take a luggage not weighing more than 20 kilos for me and 20 for my daughter.”
Activist decries deportees’ plight
The Co-ordination Activist for Network Refugees 4Refugees, a political platform for refugees/migrant self-organisation based in Stuttgart, Germany, Rex Osa, decried the plight of the deportees. According to him, “The silence of the government is condemnable knowing full well the positive impact of those diaspora Nigerians have been making on the economic stability of Nigeria. Even by playing it down to so-called diplomacy, can a government be so insensitive to the likely implication of deporting 30,000 suspected Nigerians with the ongoing insecurity in the country and the returning migrants from North Africa and South Africa?
“Quite a large number of those being deported from Germany at the moment are persons who have been working and contributing to boost the German economy. The Nigerian government should at the least engage in calling for regularisation even at our political stand of denouncing selection.”
Amongst the deportees, Rex said are persons with serious medical situation resulting from Germany’s racist tradition that forces people into bad working conditions and otherwise racist isolation that has created many psychiatric problems for migrants in Germany. “Nigeria is now witnessing a minimum of two deportation flights from Germany on a monthly basis accompanied by massive human rights abuse and violence on even children.
“The immigration claims to do the job of profiling and thereafter dump them outside the cargo airport premises to find their way. Those whose passports were handed over to the immigration are not able to get them back. Even health concerns that may require urgent attention in the interest of the Nigerian society are being ignored.”
Concluding, he said: “Germany on its own is not respecting its legal provisions on protection. Give us the names of those you are expected to issue deportation documents for and we will furnish you with enough reasons why they should not be deported even in the frame of the racist German laws.”
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.
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.
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.
IOM, African Union Commission, launch the first Africa Migration Report
Those are among the historic findings of the study, Africa Migration Report: Challenging the Narrative, released today (15 October) by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the African Union Commission (AUC). The work is the first continent-specific report on migration and is being released during a virtual meeting bringing together policymakers, experts on migration and UN partner agencies. This inaugural edition attempts to unpack commonly held misperceptions about migration in the continent.
The AMR is modelled on the IOM flagship World Migration Report produced bi-annually since 2000.
“This report has become even more relevant for us to read in the context of pandemic, and particularly meaningful given that the lion’s share of African migration remains within the continent,” IOM Director General António Vitorino said in his opening remarks. “It reminds us how migration is integrated into every aspect of our societies and economies. It reinforces the critical need to include migrants into our responses to multifaceted crises, and in all our public policies. And it forces us to look beyond the problems of today, and consider where the challenges, and solutions, of tomorrow might be found.”
H. E. Commissioner Amira El Fadil added: “On behalf of the AUC Chairperson. H.E. Faki Mahamat, and on my own behalf, I wish to thank IOM for this collaborative initiative that begins to lay the foundations for important future work on migration policy and operational work in Africa. This is especially important as the continent makes ever greater steps towards integration through the implementation of, among others, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the continental free movement protocol which, as we know, is adopted but is yet to come into force.”
Globally, the salience of migration issues is getting higher on the policy agenda. Stories of desperate Africans on rickety boats trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe or embarking on the perilous Eastern trek to the Gulf States have become mainstream. This trend distorts the public’s understanding that most African migrants are moving across land borders, not across oceans.
Yet the narratives that characterize it are not always accurate, the joint report reveals. To ensure a better understanding of the complex phenomena that spur human mobility, and to reorient the narrative, the newly released Africa Migration Report takes a deep dive into the key issues and trends characterizing the continent’s migration patterns.
In 2019, Africa was the youngest continent for international migrants with a median age of 30.9 years. According to the African Union, intra-African mobility numbers have never been higher, with international migration in Africa increasing from 13.3 million to 25.4 million migrants between 2008 and 2017. Meanwhile, according to IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC), 80 per cent of Africans, when asked about migrating in 2017, said they have no interest in leaving the continent, nor of permanently relocating.
Today’s report further notes that 94 per cent of African migration that does occur across oceans takes a regular form. Moreover, the report notes that Africans comprise no more than 14 per cent of all global migrants, while over 40 per cent come from Asia and another 24 per cent from Europe.
Experts from IOM, the AUC and other UN agencies collaborated to produce sixteen chapters covering, migration data, migration and health, migration and development, urbanization, migration and climate change, migration and trade, remittances and managing borders in the age of free movement.
The work was edited by three migration specialists: Professor Aderanti Adepoju, a Nigerian economist and demographer and leading voice in African migration research, served as Editor-in-Chief, assisted by two writers – Ms. Nanjala Nyabola and Mr. Corrado Fumagalli.
“A deeper understanding of the role migration needs to play in an Africa that is moving stridently towards continental integration has never been more urgent. It is hoped that both practitioners and policymakers will find this Africa Migration Report a useful basis for migration policy development,” Maureen Achieng, IOM Chief of Mission to Ethiopia and Representative to the African Union and UNECA said. “This inaugural Africa Migration Report presents migration policy makers with the opportunity to reflect on critical policy questions, especially in the impending post-pandemic era.”
IOM works closely with the African Union Commission to advance the migration agenda, recognizing that well-managed migration has the potential to drive development and transformation on the continent.
The Africa Migration Report was funded by the Government of Switzerland and the United States’ Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration’s Africa Regional Migration Program, the African Union Commission and IOM.
JIFORM signs MoU with Institute of Innovation (DII), US for members’ training
The Journalists International Forum For Migration (JIFORM), a global media foundation with over 200 journalists focusing on migration matters on Friday, October 16, 2020, signed. a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) to facilitate foreign trainings and other international engagements for its members in America and other nations with the Institute of Innovation (DII), US.
Also, JIFORM at the second day of the summit, honouted a Nigerian lawmaker, the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora Matters, Tolulope Akande-Sadipe, for her positive advocacy on migration matters alongside Pensioners’ FM, King FM and Federal Radio Corporation Nigeria, Ibadan for their commendable roles in promotion of safe and regular migration.
The conference held at the Pensioners’ FM Board and Training Hall, Onireke Ibadan, Oyo State, was officially unveiled by the Comptroller General, Nigeria Immigration Service, Muhammad Babandede, MFR. Virtual and physical presentations beamed on zoom and other social media networks were adopted for the summit
Ajibola Abayomi, JIFORM President said in a statement made available to the media on Wednesday that the summit themed Migration Governance and Media Strategy for Development During Pandemic under the chairmanship of Professor Patrick Lumumba from Kenya would produce glossary of terminologies for over 10,000 journalists and media establishments to upgrade the reportorial capacity of media practitioners across the world as JIFORM mapped out strategies to organize the African/Middle East Forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2021 aimed at fast tracking discussions on the abolition African women slavery in the Gulf and Arabian nations.
JIFORM praised the media houses for their excellent delivery of services to the nation saying: “Pensioners FM, the only known labour radio in world is a success to behold within just one year ditto for King FM and Radio Nigeria with unparalleled quality information promoting the right values, uniting the people and uplifting the nation.”
Prince Akinwale Ojomo, the Chief Executive Officer of DII Africa, said the Global Director of the institute, Professor Byron Price and his team were excited to work with JIFORM and would ensure successful implementation of the MOU especially to improve capacity of journalists on migration matters.
The epoch occasion will witness participation of Gerry Weiner, the former Canada immigration minister; Dr Princess Ocansey, member African Union on Labour Migration Advisory Committee and Chairperson, United Nations Youths Association, Ghana; Mr Gbenga Omotoso, Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Lagos State; Professor Ikechukwu Kanu Anthony; Johanna Mac from Erich Brost Institute, Germany; Ms Omotola Omowunmi, the Executive Director Rescue Africans In Slavery Foundation; Patricidal Phradan from Lebanon; International Organization for Migration (IOM), Nigeria and Gambia, Ghana Immigration Service and others.
Stop enslavement of Africans in other continents- Experts tell African leaders
IOM, African Union Commission, launch the first Africa Migration Report
JIFORM signs MoU with Institute of Innovation (DII), US for members’ training
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