Chilling revelations of how Germany deported Nigerian migrants in hand, leg chains
*3 policemen attached to each deportee despite being bound in chains
*Returnees dumped outside airport without support
*Article 21 of the first ever Global Compact for Migration (GCM) adopted by Nigeria, Germany and other United
Nations’ members last year at an Intergovernmental Conference held in Marrakech, Morocco, seeks member – countries’ cooperation in facilitating safe and dignified return, readmission, as well as sustainable reintegration of migrants. But the deportation of some Nigerian migrants by Germany on Monday runs foul of the conference’s position as they (migrants) were brought back in the most inhuman manner. Germany is said to have been carrying out the brutish practice over the years. INNOCENT DURU, who monitored the deportation, reports.
Last weekend, we broke the report that Germany was going to deport anew set of Nigerian migrants by Monday.
Following the report, many news organisations detailed their aviation correspondents to monitor and report the exercise but that never happened as the migrants were brought in unannounced in a chartered plane.
A top management staff member at the Murtala Mohammed Airport contacted by our reporter to track the movement of the plane said although the plane was sighted on the radar, its movement could not be tracked. “I can only track Lufthansa, Air France, KLM, British Airways, and Turkish Airlines but that particular one is not trackable.”
The plane arrived the Murtala Mohammed International Airport before 3 pm from Frankfurt and flew back to Germany at about 4:30pm after refuelling.
Shortly after the deportees’ arrival, Nigerian officials at the airport, acting as if working in consonance with the German authorities, conveyed the migrants in a white bus, marked MUS 324BP, and callously dumped them outside the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company( NAHCO) premises around 3:40pm.
Relevant government agencies that were supposed to calm and counsel the crest-fallen deportees were not on ground to do so.
“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,” one of the deportees, who gave his name as Mike, lamented.
Some of the deportees lighted sticks of cigarette as they alighted from the bus and ceaselessly puffed the smoke into the sky, apparently to douse the frustration and disappointment they had suffered returning home unfulfilled. While some of them had some luggage of not more than two bags, some others were seen carrying nearly empty sacks, popularly called Ghana- must-go. One was particularly sighted carrying only a brown carton which he said contained medications given to him in Germany.
The man who was speechless, after roaming about for a while, dashed into a commercial vehicle without waiting to ask where the vehicle was heading to. His colleagues said he was seriously ill during the trip and had to be constantly given drugs and injections by the doctors attached to him from Germany.
Some of the stranded deportees begged to use sympathisers’ phones to inform their relations of their ordeal and also plead that they should come and take them home.
“Some of the deportees often suffer psychological breakdown when they are dropped and abandoned here. One woman instantly developed psychiatric problem immediately she came down from the bus that brought them here (shows the video recording on his phone). Some loiter around for days begging for money to go home,” an airport source said.
The source’s claim was corroborated by Mike. “While we were still in Germany, we heard a guy on a wheel chair was deported in July and was frustrated at the airport for three days because none of his relations was aware of his arrival.”
‘How German authorities chained us like animals from Frankfurt back home’
Disappointing and condemnable as the treatment meted out to the deportees at the Murtala Mohammed Airport was, they said it as inconsequential compared to the terror visited on them by the German authorities during their journey home.
The deportees recounted that they were put in hand and leg cuffs from Frankfurt and were only unchained when the plane was about to land.
“Coming back to Nigeria, we had our hands and legs in cuffs. When we asked them why they did that, they said it was for their own safety. We were 20 Nigerians and the security men were three times our number.
“As if that was not enough, they also attached three security men to every deportee there in the plane. Because of my health condition, they attached two doctors to me in case I developed any problem during the trip. The authorities packaged my medication and gave them to me.
“Inside the plane, there was another guy who was sick and was being given injections by the doctor attached to him. As the plane was landing, they started removing the cuffs,” Mike said.
Another deportee, who simply gave his name as James, validated the claim. According to him, “After putting us in hand and leg cuffs, they put one policeman by the right seat, another one by the left seat and the third behind. I can’t really understand why they visited such inhuman treated on us.”
To check if the treatment was a new development, our reporter got in touch with some migrants who were deported earlier. The finding showed that it had always been the practice and females were not excluded from it.
A lady, Esther, who said she was deported on July 25, narrated how she was chained from hospital to the airport, adding that she remained in cuffs till they were about landing in Nigeria.
The mother of one, who said she had health challenges while in Germany, added: “Immediately I heard that I was to be deported, I had an attack and quickly used my inhaler. The doctors on ground checked me and called an ambulance. At that point, my blood pressure was reading over 140. They took me in an ambulance to the hospital.
“When we got to the hospital, they poured tablets in my mouth and the doctor closed my mouth until the drugs melted. The next thing I saw was needle in my hand. As I was about to remove the needle, they just put cuffs in both my hands and legs. They chained me to the hospital bed. They used that same ambulance to transport me to the airport. While we were going, a policewoman slapped me in the ambulance.
“I was in chains until the pilot announced that we were about to land and that we should use our seat belts. It was at that point that they removed the cuffs and gave my son to me. 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. I never believed that they could do treat a nursing mother that way. It is disheartening.”
Another deportee, who gave his name as Isaac Baresi, spoke of how he was deported wearing prison uniform.
“The first time they came to take me out for deportation, the policemen that came were about five but when they came the second time, they were in four different groups. They promised to bring my clothes for me but they didn’t. I came back wearing prison uniform and shoes. The very day I was deported, they gave me a very big prison uniform like Baba Suwe cloth (laughing). I still have the prison cloth but I gave someone the prison shoes at Ojuelegba.
“They handcuffed me and cuffed my legs when we were coming. It was a chest handcuff they used. It was such that you would not be able to scratch your face even when you feeling some itching. They would belt you and chain you like this(demonstrates it) such that your hand cannot move.
“When you call on them that you want to scratch your face, they will loosen it a bit. Three policemen were attached to each deportee despite putting us in chains. We were 27 deported but 93 policemen were attached to us.
“When I landed at the airport, the reality of what was awaiting me dawned on me. I am 39 years. Life has been very difficult since I came back. The day we came, immigration officers only took our names and number. Nothing has happened since then.”
Also reliving his ordeal, a 30-year-old deportee, who gave his name simply as Emmanuel, confirmed the development. According to him, “They handcuffed me from the deportation camp to the airport and thoroughly searched us after making us to go stark naked to know if we had drugs on us. After the search, they chained my hands and legs and attached three security men to accompany each one of us on the trip. Some Nigerian Immigration officers saw the hand and leg scuffs and asked why such was done to us. It was on May 20, you can go and verify this from them.”
Activists protest inhuman treatment of deportees
Prominent activists working on migration issues have condemned what they described as insensitive treatment meted out to the deportees. The treatment, according to them, is against global migration laws.
Alluding to the Global Compact for Migration (GCM) position that Nigeria adopted, the Director of the Centre for Youth Integrated Development, Aihawu Victor, said: “If the document says members should cooperate in facilitating safe and dignified return, under which term can we say this return is dignified? The returns we are having now, are they in line with that article 21?”
Migration, he said, is not a crime and “there is no reason anybody who is being returned under migration issue should be handcuffed. I don’t know why you even handcuff somebody in a plane. I think there are certain things that could be done to prevent all of those things.
“They may have to do a proper departure counselling. We did it before in about nine prisons in the UK. By the time we finished, about 95 percent of them were willing to come back home. Nigeria government should take care of the citizens.”
The Co-ordination Activist for Network Refugees 4Refugees, a political platform for refugees/migrant self-organisation based in Stuttgart, Germany, Rex Osa, also decried the deportation of sick migrants.
“According to international standard, when someone has a critical health condition, there is the possibility of granting them humanitarian protection, especially those whose asylum has been exhausted, even when the letter they were given says they were obligated to leave the country, it said if you have any medical reason why you have to stay, you should present the document.
“There is a law that guards such possibilities that these persons can get resident permit. It doesn’t matter whether the person’s country has the medical facilities to take care of him. What matters is, does the person have the financial capacity to take care of the condition? But Germany is not respecting this. Most of the people who are being deported are being taken out of the country without giving them access to this,” Osa said.
Deportees relive experiences, journey to Germany
For intending migrants planning to seek asylum in Germany, the experiences of the deportees provide a huge lesson.
The journey to Germany for Emmanuel, who was deported two months ago, wasn’t an easy one. According to him, “I went to Germany five years ago. I travelled from Benin to Lagos. From Lagos, I moved to Niger and from Niger to Libya and from Libya to Italy. When I was in Italy, I heard that Germany opened their borders for refugees to enter the country. That was in 2014 and we all went because it was free.
“I went to school there and obtained three different certificates. I worked there for 18 months. I was surprised the day they sent me a letter asking me to stop working. I went to the embassy and they said I should bring my passport. I told them I didn’t have and they said if I didn’t have, it meant I wasn’t a Nigerian and that they would not be able to issue me a passport or travel document.
“I was sleeping in my room one day when they came around 4am. They were about 20 policemen who came to pick me up. We had some argument and in the process, they injured me with a sharp object that was like a knife (shows the scar on his hand). Thereafter, they took me to hospital and stitched the hand. I only spent two hours in the hospital. From there, they took me to a police station where they detained me for about four to five hours before taking me to court.”
When he was charged to court, Emmanuel said: “They asked why I didn’t want to return to Nigeria and I told them I came to Germany because they asked refugees to come in and asked why they wanted to send us back. After the whole thing, they insisted that I must be deported and gave me a month to appeal. I got a lawyer and was paying him 40 Euros every month.
“Each time I had to go to court, I would pay the lawyer about 300 Euro. Some would take 500 Euro. I was doing that believing that it would change the decision. If I knew I would be eventually be deported, I wouldn’t have paid a lawyer to appeal the decision.
“After terminating my job, they started paying me 300 Euro monthly. It was from there I was paying my lawyer. I had my money left in their bank and properties too. I came back with about two pairs of trousers and two shirts, some of my colleagues came back with nothing.”
Narrating how he got to Germany, Isaac Baresi said: “ I travelled to Libya and from there, I moved to Italy where I spent a year and three months. When I didn’t get work to do in Italy, I went to Germany. I spent four years before I was deported. I went to school to learn how to speak the language and later got a job as a welder.
“When they informed me that my asylum was limited to two years, I got a lawyer to appeal the decision. As I was going to court, I had the feeling that I could win and be allowed to continue my life there. It was looking good for me but at a point, the Nigerian Consular spoilt it. He gave them a travelling certificate to bring me back.
“Many people who are not Nigerians are deported here because they claim they are Nigerians. One of the guys we came back together with is a Ghanaian but he was deported to Nigeria. He claimed that Boko Haram menace made him to flee Nigeria. Once people don’t have passport to travel, they will look for any country going through challenges, claim it is theirs and use that to seek asylum.”
He added: “The police came to my house around 4am when they wanted to pick me up for deportation. I heard Baresi from the window and immediately I knew trouble was looming. I wasn’t always sleeping well while I was there. My heart was always beating as I was always checking the window to see what was happening. When they eventually came, they took me to court and told me the date for my deportation and put me in prison.
“When they came on the day fixed for my deportation, I said I wasn’t going. They left me and gave me another date which was just 10 days from that day. I didn’t want to come because there was nothing to do here.”
For Mike, the unpleasant experience he had couldn’t have taken place but for the health challenges that took him to Germany in 2013. According to him, “I was in Belgium and went to visit my brother in Germany and because I was having some ailments, my brother said Germany would be the right place for me to undergo the treatment. I had tumor on my neck and had it operated. After the operation, I decided to stay back so that I could be getting my medication and treatment. I actually sought asylum there.
“After a year, I was feeling unwell again and went back to the hospital and found that the problem had come back and I would have to undergo another operation. After the second operation, they were giving me medication. The doctor even told me that I would have to live on the medication because I was feeling serious pains.
“They knew that if I should continue to go on with the situation I was, I might be able to get legal power to stay, so they were trying everything to kick me out of the country; they were working with the doctor so that he will not give the appropriate report about my condition. They work with doctors and lawyers to make sure they win their case and kick you out as an immigrant.
“I got a lawyer who contacted my doctor and wrote the first appeal concerning my situation. My lawyer asked my doctor to write a specific report concerning me but it was difficult for the doctor to do so because he was working with the immigration. The doctor said the tumor wasn’t there again, that I was just taking medication because of the pains. My lawyer was writing the court but the court was rejecting it. The court said since I have a brother in Nigeria, that if they deport me, I should contact him to be sending me those medications.”
Mike said he was eventually arrested on May 6 and was kept in a place they call detention centre. “For me, the place is a prison. I was there for almost four months. They were supposed to deport me on July 2, but because I was very sick, the police came and brought out 11 different types of drugs and asked me to take them. I told them I hadn’t eaten but they said it didn’t matter, that I should take the drugs.
“They just wanted me to be fine for the journey. They put me in their van. When we got to the airport, they took me to Lufthansa, and I asked for water because I was feeling dizzy. The pilot was watching and as I climbed the plane, the pilot asked the policemen why they brought a sick man on board but the police said I was fine but just tired. The pilot insisted that I should be taken to hospital.
“At that point, one of the policemen got mad and said: ‘You want to remain in Germany, right? You want to stay here and want our government to be treating you? Can I come to Nigeria and expect the Nigerian government to be treating me if I am sick? Why would you think the German government will take care of your sickness? He said, ‘in two weeks’ time, there would be no pilot to ask if you are sick because we are going to use a chattered plane.”
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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