Discordant tunes over deportation of Nigerian migrants from Germany
*Nobody was deported, claims Nigerian Immigration •We’re aware deported migrants landed on August 19 –FAAN
*Nigerian Embassy, Germany: 27 Nigerian migrants were deported from Frankfurt •NASS to tackle inhuman treatment of deportees
Last weekend, we published a report about how Nigerian migrants were put in hand and leg cuffs while being deported from Frankfurt to Murtala Muhammed International Airport by the German authorities and secretly dumped outside the airport.The Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and Nigeria Embassy in Germany, in this follow up to the report,confirmed the deportation. But despite the overwhelming evidence that the deportation took place, the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) surprisingly said there was no deportation from Germany. INNOCENT DURU reports the discordant tunes that trail the deportation.
What does Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) have to hide about the deportation of Nigerian migrants from Germany on August 19? This obviously is the question that would come to the mind of any rational person reading this report.
For the past two weeks, we have published reports about the deportation of Nigerian migrants from Frankfurt, Germany. The first, published on August 17, was an exclusive news report that Germany was going to deport some Nigerian migrants on Monday, August 19, 2019 and that they would arrive the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, between 2pm and 3pm.
On the said day, the deportation took place as exactly published in the report, albeit in a very secretive manner. We adequately captured every bit of the exercise last weekend, August 24, 2019 in our elaborate special report.
In spite of the pictorial evidence that validated the deportation, the Nigeria Immigration Service shockingly denied that Germany deported any Nigerian migrants on the said date.
The national spokesperson of the NIS, Sunday James, in a telephone interview with our correspondent, unequivocally said the Murtala Muhammed Airport office informed them that there was no such deportation when he inquired from them. “There was no deportation from Germany to my knowledge. Even last week, some of your media colleagues called to that effect and we confirmed from the Lagos Airport office that there was nothing like that. Yes from the Lagos Airport, there was nothing like that. As at the last time I spoke with our office in Lagos, they said there was nothing like that and that was last week.”
Explaining the organisation’s role when people are deported, he said: “Our role as immigration officials is to profile them to know why they were deported, and how many they are.”
Aside the deportation last Monday, James, also unequivocally denied that Germany had deported any Nigerian migrants this year even when our findings revealed that some Nigerian migrants were earlier deported. The Nigerian Embassy in Germany also corroborated our findings. A Minister Information, Culture and Education at the Nigerian Embassy in Germany, Peter Lambat, told The Nation that 335 Nigerian migrants have been deported this year from Germany.
But the NIS PRO said: “I am not aware that Nigerian migrants were deported in July. I don’t know the last time people were deported from Germany. If it is Germany, I don’t know. I don’t have any business with deportation as the PRO; it is only when the Comptroller General is informed and communicated. The process is done through the investigation section. When this is done, definitely, I will know.”
Asked when and how the service receives information about deportation of Nigerians, he said: “Signals for deportation don’t come to me, they go to the CGS. I don’t know of any deportation from Germany, quote me authoritatively as the service PRO. There is supposed to be an advanced notification that people would be deported but I as the service PRO, Iam not aware of any but the service may be aware.”
FAAN, Nigerian Embassy confirm our report
Contrary to NIS’ blatant denial of the deportation, however, the Federal Aiport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Nigerian Embassy in Germany have officially confirmed that the exercise took place.
The FAAN spokesperson, Henrietta Yakubu, in a telephone interview with our correspondent, confirmed the arrival of the deportees at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja, penultimate Monday. “Yes, they landed on August 19 but I don’t have details about the aircraft that brought them. “
Prodded further to comment on why the deportees were secretly taken out of the airport and dumped outside theNigerian Aviation Handling Company( NAHCO )premises, Yakubu said: “Honestly I don’t have that information for you. We have ministries that take care of deportees. It is not FAAN that does that. You need to get that information from another agency. Ours is that they landed at the airport.”
The Nigerian envoy in Germany, Peter Lambat, also confirmed that the deportation took place. “To the best of our knowledge, the last deportation batch was on 19th August, 2019.
Headquarters was informed to facilitate welcome and other actions by relevant government institutions.”
Providing statistics of deported Nigerian migrants since the beginning of the year and those currently in prison in German, Lambat said: “By our records, 27 people were deported that day. There are 129 Nigerian prisoners across German prisons; 335 have been deported from January 2019 to date.
“Deportations are carried out after due administrative processes as initiated by the German authorities and in conjunction with the Nigerian Embassy. Hence, no estimates of future deportations can be made for now.”
Asked why Germany put the deportees in in chain while deporting them, the envoy said the mission was not aware of what conditions the deportees were subjected to en route Lagos, Nigeria, adding:” Embassy officials do not accompany deportees on the homeward journey.
“His Excellency, Ambassador Yusuf Maitama Tuggar had a meeting with the German State Secretary of Interior, Dr. Helmut Teichmann on 23/8/19 and the following was gathered:
“The ministry had not received any such report on this particular flight.
Some of the deportees are convicts that have finished serving prison terms, often for committing violent crimes;
“Deportees are only cuffed when they become violent and also when there is a high level threat assessment to the flight crew, officials and the other deportees; even at that, the cuffs are only of plastic materials.
“The embassy always takes allegations of inhumane treatment of Nigerians very seriously, which is why the ambassador and senior diplomats in the embassy physically met with the Interior Ministry’s Permanent Secretary and most senior civil servant, Mr Teichmann. The embassy also monitors the treatment and conditions of Nigerians in detention and/or serving prison terms and promptly responds to complaints.”
Lambat, however, said the embassy would inquire from the German Police and other relevant organs on what transpired necessitating the inhuman cuffing of the deportees in the Frankfurt to Lagos flight. Further enquiries would also be made on earlier such treatments which run contrary to the rights of dignified home return. This will inform embassy’s next line of action.
“The Nigerian government remains committed to the protection of the human rights of its citizens at all times anywhere in the world, including those of the deportees. This remains a sacrosanct duty of the government.”
Debunking allegations that Nigerian embassy officials connive with the German authorities to deport the migrants, he said: “It is absurd and unthinkable that a Nigerian diplomat would/could collude with German authorities to deport Nigerians from Germany.The point is, there are agreements/protocols that are being adhered to. The whole exercise of interview of asylum seekers is transparently conducted by the German Police and embassy officials. Cases are treated on their merits.
“Those bordering on health, marital/divorce and children custodianship cases are accorded deference until fully settled. It’s only after all the above have been considered by the Joint Team of Embassy and German Police that Emergency Travel Certificates (ETCs) are issued to enable the home bound journey.”
Our ugly encounter with NIS officials over deportation of migrants –Germany based activist
The co-ordination activist for Network Refugees 4Refugees, a political platform for refugees/migrant self-organisation based in Stuttgart, Germany, Rex Osa, told The Nation how officials of NIS allegedly harassed him and his colleagues when they moved to assist the deportees. “Before the arrival of the deportees, we went to the airport to see how we could assist these guys when they were deported. We wrote a letter to the NIS to that effect. One of the officials told us that we could wait for the deportees at the entry gate where they would leave them after their arrival. He said it is after they finish with their profiling work, that we could do our humanitarian work because they would at that point have nothing more to offer them.
“He said as long as they are back, they are on their own. It was really shocking. I was trying to explain to him that some of the people were sick. He didn’t seem to be interested. The only thing he told us was that we could wait for them at the gate to render the help we wanted. He said that if he should find out that we were intercepting their job, then there would be problem. Then I asked him: ‘What do you mean by intercepting your job?’
“The next thing he told me was: ‘don’t you understand English? You don’t understand what interception means?’ I further demanded to know what he meant so that we would not cross our boundary but he didn’t answer again. The next thing he did was to say: ‘ I thought I have finished with you people’. Indirectly he was telling us to get out from there”.
On that very day those migrants were deported, Rex said: ” I saw an ambulance moving towards the arrival. One of the deportees, Mike, told me that they called for ambulance because the immigration refused to take one guy because they said they didn’t want him to die in their hands. At the time the ambulance came, an immigration officer went over to the German police officer in the plane.
“When he was coming back, the same NIS officer, who rejected the guy, was the one binging him down from the flight. Who knows what might have happened? “
We’ll work with executives to tackle inhuman treatment of deportees- House Committee Chair on Refugee and IDP matters
The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on IDPs, Refugees and North-East Initiatives, Hon. Muhammed Umar Jega, has decried the alleged hand and leg cuffing of the deportees by the German authorities, assuring that the committee would work with the executive to stop subsequent acts of inhuman treatment of Nigerians by Germany.
READ ALSO: Horrors of asylum seekers (1)
“Nigeria has not fared well in ensuring that the people were brought back with dignity. If our citizens could be deported with handcuffs, there was no dignity in that. They should be able to respect the MoU signed with them. We would be engaging the executive on how to ensure that our citizens are treated with dignity by Germany when deporting them.
“It was inhuman for Germany to hand cuff them inside a plane. Were they going to run away from the plane? That is inhuman treatment that shows no respect for human rights. We should be able to enlighten our own citizens so that even if they want to migrate, they should do so in a much more decent manner. They should not just leave the country like that and go into a derogatory life. It is not the best.”
The lawmaker said the National Commission for Refugees was “supposed to attend to the deportees when they arrived, at least to settle them down and provide some support for them to go back to their families.”
Contacted to know why the commission was not on ground to attend to the deportees, the spokesperson of the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFR), Zainab Banu, said the new head has not been given her mandate and cannot yet speak on public issues.
German Embassy in Nigeria delays reply to questions on inhuman treatment of deportees
When our correspondent contacted the officer in charge of Legal and Consula Matters in the German Embassy in Nigeria, Hanno Hille, on Monday, for comments on the inhuman treatment allegedly meted out to the deportees, he demanded that the questions should be forwarded to his email as he would not want to speak on such matters on the phone. He immediately sent his email address.
Three days after sending the message, no response has been received from the German Embassy, prompting the reporter to call Hille again to ask him for the response.
Responding, he said: “I have received the email. I have forwarded it to the press department and they are working on it.”
When asked when the response would be ready, he replied: “I can’t say when they would respond because we are in different sections. They are working on it and you will receive a response in due course. That is all I can tell you.”
6 Nigerians deported from India
TWO Nigerians have been deported from India for overstaying their visas, the Delhi Police said on Thursday, bringing to six the total number of Nigerians expelled from the country since the beginning of this year.
According to a statement released on its official Twitter page, the Dwarka Police said the two Nigerians and a Sudanese were arrested and deported by officers from Uttam Nagar Police Station, after they were found to be living in India without valid visas and passports.
“2 #Nigerian Nationals & 1 from #Sudan were found living without having valid #Visa & #Passport during area #Patrolling duty, were deported by the staff of PS Uttam Nagar,” the statement read, using the hashtag #ActionAgainstIllegalStaying.
It was gathered that the two Nigerians recently deported were among 10 Nigerian nationals picked up by the police from the Uttam Nagar in Dwarka district on Wednesday, January 6.
Two Nigerian males were deported from the country on January 13th, 2021, by officers from the Mohan Garden Police Station and another male with one female were deported on January 11 in a similar sting operation by men from Uttam Nagar Police Division.
The deputy commissioner of police, Dwarka, Santosh Kumr Meena, who confirmed the development, described their action as a gross violation of the Indian visa norms.
“Their visas have also expired but they are continuously staying in India which is a gross violation of the Indian visa norms. They have not provided any suitable reason and supportive documents for their overstay in India,” he said.
Over the years, several Nigerians residing in the country have been arrested and deported. The offences charged against them include illegal stay, internet fraud, online romance scams and drug peddling.
Biden reverses Trump’s travel ban on Nigeria, Yemen, Eritrea, others
Mr Biden has now nullified the entry ban on citizens from over a dozen countries, including Eritrea, Yemen, Nigeria, and Sudan.
Newly sworn-in American president, Joe Biden, on Wednesday, issued an executive order nullifying a travel ban imposed on citizens of some Muslim-majority countries by his predecessor, Donald Trump.
Before his exit from White House on Wednesday, Mr Trump-led administration was notorious for its harsh policies against immigrants and asylum seekers, one of his many election campaign promises.
He tightened the policies amidst the coronavirus pandemic which rocked the globe, claiming his decision was to protect American populace.
However, Mr Biden, immediately after his inauguration on Wednesday, issued a number of executive orders undoing some of the policies and projects of his predecessor.
Mr Biden has now nullified the entry ban on citizens from over a dozen countries, including Nigeria, Eritrea, Yemen, and Sudan.
“There’s no time to waste.
“These are just all starting points,” he said before signing the 17 executive orders in the White House, a statement that connotes the possibility of many more to come.
Mr Trump’s strict immigration policies have been condemned by leaders and civil groups in the past.
The American Civil Liberties Union, on Wednesday lauded Mr Biden’s decision berating his predecessor’s travel policy a “cruel Muslim ban that targeted Africans.
Culled from Premium Times
Frightened residents brace as Cyclone Eloise approaches Mozambique
Roughly 160 International Organization for Migration (IOM) staff in central Mozambique are working to prepare local communities for the imminent arrival of Cyclone Eloise, which is currently packing winds of at least 150 km/h.
“The people are scared,” said Cesaltino Vilanculo, an IOM Mobile team leader in the provincial capital Beira, who helped hundreds of families evacuate from unsafe temporary settlements to two accommodation centers.
“The water is rising in their zones and people are frightened, bracing for yet another storm.”
Eloise is expected to make landfall in Beira late Friday or early Saturday. By mid-afternoon today shops across the city are closed and flooded streets, empty.
IOM personnel will be ready to respond immediately with specialists in camp coordination and management, shelter, the distribution of non-food items, health and protection services and data mapping under IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM).
The Port of Beira is set to close on Friday for a period of about 40 hours in expectation of dangerous winds and rain from the afternoon of 22 January through the morning of 24 January. Beira is the main entry point for goods bound for north coastal Mozambique.
A limited supply of emergency non-food items had been stockpiled in Beira, including tarps and water tanks. However, resources are stretched, as IOM is actively responding to the crisis across Northern Mozambique.
At the same time, over 900 people are already displaced in Beira City due to recent heavy rains and the impact of Tropical Storm Chalane, which hit nearby Sofala Province on 30 December.
“The government is working, identifying the safe places to bring the people who are most vulnerable,” explained Aida Temba, a protection project assistant with IOM Mozambique.
“The rain is coming, and the water is rising and it’s not easy to reach all the people who need assistance. But we do our best to respond.”
Hundreds of families were evacuated to two accommodation centres, sheltered in tents provided by Mozambique’s National Institute for Disaster Management and Risk Reduction (INGD). One accommodation center was today closed, in favor of moving families to schools, which provide more stable structure. Those families’ needs include food, potable water, hygiene kits and soap.
IOM Mozambique also has reported that due to heavy rainfall and the discharge of water from the Chicamba dam and the Mavuzi reservoir—both in the Buzi District west of Beira—over 19,000 people have been affected and hundreds are being moved to accommodation centers. Their needs include food, hygiene kits, and COVID-19 prevention materials.
IOM staff are supporting the Government of Mozambique with the movements in both Beira and Buzi and actively working to improve drainage ways in resettlement sites in preparation for further rains.
IOM’s DTM, working jointly with Mozambique’s INGD, is poised to produce a report on displacement and damages within the first 72 hours of the cyclone’s arrival.
Tropical storms historically are common in these early months of rainy season. Cyclone Idai struck the country in March 2019. It is considered one of the worst tropical cyclones to hit Africa on record, claiming hundreds of lives, and affecting three million people across wide swaths of Mozambique, Madagascar, Malawi and Zimbabwe. A second powerful storm, Cyclone Kenneth, hit Mozambique just weeks later.
Total property damages from Cyclone Idai have been estimated at some USD2.2 billion. Almost two years later, roughly 100,000 people remain in resettlement sites, which also have been battered by the recent rains.
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