Saturday, 7 August 2010

Hungary: Footballer Faces Deportation

 By Hakeem Babalola
Community Report

The new biometric passport known as e-passport
A Nigerian footballer in Hungary has been ordered to leave the country because of an error made by his own embassy in Madrid, Spain during the process of a new biometric more

Enefiok Francis Edem, 23 got the shock of his life when he presented his new passport to the Hungarian Immigration for a transfer of his permanent resident permit which he had obtained as a result of his marriage to Hungarian woman.

On presenting his new biometric passport, the immigration discovered that the date of birth recorded in his new passport did not tally with the old one. The Embassy of the Republic of Nigeria in Spain had mistakenly committed an appalling error of data by writing 10th of July 1987 instead of 10th of June 1987 as Francis date of birth.

According to the immigration, disparity in personal data in a document such as passport is an offence under the existing Hungarian law. But Human Rights lawyer, Dr. Horváth Péter said that Francis has not committed any offence – technically – since the mistake was an official error duly attested to by the sister diplomatic mission of the issuing authority in Hungary.

However, the “To Whom It May Concern” by the Nigerian embassy in Hungary, attesting to the fact that its sister diplomatic mission in Spain had made a mistake regarding Francis date of birth, might eventually save the footballer from being repatriated. 

Francis, a goalkeeper for the Afrique Internationale here in Budapest, said that the ugly situation probably would have been averted if only the Nigeria embassy in Hungary had earlier understood the seriousness of the case the first time he went there for attestation which the immigration had requested for.

“When I went there the first time,” said Francis, “the embassy was reluctant to issue an official paper – though I was later given – that Nigeria embassy in Spain had made a mistake concerning my date of birth”.

Although Francis was given the option to appeal within ten-working-day, his permanent residence permit has since been replaced with a temporary one of three months.

“This is a violation of human rights,” declared a Human Rights activist who is closely following the case, adding that “if someone is expelled unlawfully, it is a violation of International law and European Convention of Human Rights of which Hungary is a member signatory”.  

Dr. Horváth in his official letter to the immigration and made available to this writer states that the decision to expel Francis does not fulfil the criteria of the Hungarian law, especially when the immigration itself admitted that the passport was obtained at a diplomatic mission of the person in question.

Although Dr. Horváth added that the Home Office in its capacity can take any decision deem fit in such circumstances, especially regarding personal data misinformation, he believed Francis should have been given another option instead of revoking his permanent residence.  

“It’s part of immigration bureaucracy,” he said, saying we have appealed the decision and we are waiting for the court proceeding.


bill Carson said...

Deportation by Hungarian Authority in this case maybe appropriate, some Nigerians don’t take pains in checking documents/facts (but always assuming things). If Mr. Edem had bothered to check he would have noticed the error and quickly made the effort to correct it. Alternative, he was well aware and with a criminal mindset decided to conceal it from the Hungarian Authority.

Clearwater said...

I find it difficult to understand why Mr. Edem did not retify the mistake in his passport before giving it to the Hungarian authority? or was he not aware of the mistake?

Hakeem, could you please clarify this?

Anonymous said...

Maybe Edem did not know that Western societies pay particular attention to anything that has to do with Nigeria/Nigerian(s).
Maybe Edem saw the mistake but thought within himself that it does not matter.
It may not matter within Nigeria,but in the West,it matters much,or can't he and others see it now?

mysmallvoice said...

@ Clearwater

I find it difficult to understand why Mr. Edem did not rectify the mistake in his passport before giving it to the Hungarian authority? or was he not aware of the mistake? Hakeem, could you please clarify this?
The same thought flashed to my mind upon hearing the case....But the following is what Mr. Edem told me

Mr Edem said that he did not cross check the passport in Spain because he was in a hurry as not to miss his flight back to Budapest.

Secondly, he said that he did not want to go back to Spain upon discovering the mistake because it was too expensive.

He explained further that the Immigration upon discovering the mistake asked him to bring an official letter from his embassy in Hungary attesting to the fact which the embassy refused to give him.

According to him, by the time the embassy realized the seriousness of the case, it was too late and the Immigration had made its decision.

Meaning that when he could not produce the embassy's attestation as required by the immigration, the officials decided that Mr. Edem might be playing the prank like some of his compatriots (Nigerian passport has always been a serious matter in Hungary).

The embassy of Nigeria in Hungary eventually issued the attestation but only after the immigration had made its decision to deport Mr. Edem.

Anonymous said...

Is Mr Edem taking any responsiblity for the mistake? As I understand, passport applicants are always required to cross-check their personal information before passport process is finalized? If he had done that, he would have noticed the wrong entry of his date of birth.

Secondly , he was wrong in not crosschecking the passport after he received it.

Thirdly, as Carson and Clearwater right pointed out, why did he approach the Hungarian Immigration with the passport instead of sorting out the problem before going there.