Monday, 18 June 2007

Nigerians Blood on their Hands

Nigerians all over the world are demonstrating against the horrible and dehumanizing killing of Osamuyiwa Aikpitanhi, 23, who was reportedly murdered by Spanish authority in an insensate destruction. By this action, these Nigerians have marched the mules called leaders into the desert of consciousness. Their intelligence and general knowings was impressive.

I just couldn't stop marvelling at such ingenuity. Knowing that their government would turn blind eyes to the savagery killing, these Nigerians mounted a protest letter – signed by over 2000 Nigerians and non-Nigerians including yours truly, which I think is the best approach under the circumstance.

I am afraid though. I hate to say it but their efforts to end such extremely cruel murder will be in vain unless the Nigerian government is ready to address such cruel and deliberate killing of its citizens around the world. And such address must be critical and seriously intended. You may call me certain names but Osamuyia's killing won’t be the last. Jesus, the thought is overwhelmingly distressful.

Meanwhile, there are two main reasons Nigerians will continue to suffer inhumane treatment abroad or killed in cold-blooded manner:

First and foremost is the innocuous attitude of the Nigerian government and its representatives (diplomats) towards the inhumane treatment of its citizens. Many Nigerians have been killed in foreign countries in such circumstances that need serious intervention from our embassies. Our friends there should be able to tell us the outcome of the investigations over the gruesome killings of Olubukola Osiyemi, Motunrayo Oguntuase, Eugene Ejike Obiora, and Osamuyia Aikpitanhi.

Olubukola Osiyemi met his untimely death in France while on transit to Nigeria from Hungary, where he had a permanent resident. He was alleged to have been tortured, according to his Hungarian wife, Mrs Zita Osiyemi, who had to contact the Hungarian Interpol before she eventually knew her deceased husband’s whereabouts.

Motunrayo Oguntuase, a first year economic student at McDaniel College in Budapest, died in a circumstance described by a Nigerian consular as disappointing. The police said they picked Oguntuase up based on a phone call they received that a naked person was in the street. They claimed he displayed signs of aggression, mumbled incoherent words, which prompted them to restrain him.

Eugene Ejike Obiora was beaten to death by Trondheim police. It was reported that he had had some discussion with the social officers, and refused to leave until he was attended to. The social officers invited the police who later invited other police officers. Eugene was handcuffed, kicked, and dragged on the floor through the staircase; he sustained injuries that led to his death before the arrival of an ambulance.

Now the question I will continue to ask is this: what action did the Nigerian Embassies take? As far as I know in the first two cases, the Nigerian Embassy did take initial actions but their best failed the test. I have a hunch that Nigerian diplomats do not trust their fellow citizens abroad, so approaching our embassies for any service especially immigration issue might bring disappointment.

The case of a "Nigerian" homeless student in Hungary, Enemuor Frank Chibuzor, 27, is typical of such distrust. Despite the fact that Enemuor gave his address as 36 Nmwoji street, Independence Layout, Enugu, the Nigerian Embassy in Budapest still raising doubts about his nationality while the boy's health continue to deteriorate.

Our diplomats, it seems, have inferiority complex when it comes to dealing with their hosts, otherwise Nigerians would not continue to die like "a goat had died"; and yet they maintained a strong silence.

The second reason for the inhumane treatment of Nigerians abroad may be due to our desperation to leave our country in order to search for "a better life" abroad, which is obvious to these countries. I mean, if they treated us so badly when applying for visas, we should not expect them to treat us any better when we finally got to their land. If, according to Levi Obijiofor, [many Nigerians] "say in desperation that they wouldn’t mind putting up tent under a bridge in a foreign country anywhere outside Africa", how then do you want them to treat us?

For instance, a Nigerian mother of five in her quest to obtain travel documents was reportedly harassed, humiliated and assaulted by a French officer. Reacting to the inhuman treatment, the woman’s husband said that though he was angered but he was afraid that pursuing the case would jeopardize his business interest with his overseas’ partner. Hum, can you blame the poor fellow who may never know what dignity entails!

Another report had it that Justin Belonwu and Ugwu Desmond were ill-treated by the French police on their way to Germany. The duo hands were tied behind them, their faces covered with blankets simply because they did not have hotel reservation tickets! Six other Nigerians were allegedly forced down from the same plane and taken into detention for daring to challenge the police brutality of their fellow Nigerians. They were not airlifted to Lagos – their destination.

A hypertension patient, Mrs Magdalene Anukwuike Okafor-Orji, was disgraced and deported by the Dutch Immigration officials after she was told that her Nigerian passport had been forged, according to Vanguard Online. She had used the same passport to obtain a visa to Switzerland – her final destination – for medical check up.

On reaching Murtala Muhammad Airport, the helpless woman, who had been locked up in "a cold room" and "almost frozen to death" back in Holland encountered another harassment from her own people. The Nigerian Immigration officers started screaming at her saying she was one of those who give Nigeria a bad image.

There are two clear messages in the above story. First, for Dutch immigration officials to have accused a Nigerian coming from Nigeria of passport forgery, and subsequently repatriated her shows they have no respect or confidence in their Nigerian counterpart. Mrs. Magdalene obviously passed through the Nigerian Immigration, so if the passport was forged, it should have been the duty of Nigerian immigration to question her. Second, screaming at her when she arrived in Lagos shows that our immigration officials do not have confidence in their own efficiency.

If they understood the whole thing, Nigerian immigration should have quarrelled with their Dutch counterpart over this issue. By not taking the case against the Dutch officials for accusing someone who had passed through their nose of passport forgery is an admission of Dutch officials’ superiority over them. And this is why we shall continue to be maltreated by foreign countries. These people know this, and seem to be exploiting the avenue. If you killed a Nigerian, no one would raise eyebrows.

Agree or not, it still comes down to the attitude of our government. The way it treats such issues has been marked by blithe unconcern. Although Obasanjo's administration once approved a number of policies to protect Nigerians abroad, the crux of the matter must be seen in proper context. We must correct the fundamental reasons responsible for the "cheek out" mentality of Nigerians. This may save a precious live in the hands of those foreign officials who often show lack of human sensibility.

copyright 2007

Related stories:
Eugene Ejike Obiora, Motunrayo Oguntuase, Nigerian citizen gagged and killed by Spain | Nigerian Village Square

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