Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Botswana-based Nigerians seek President Jonathan’s intervention over mass deportation

 By Emmanuel Uzodinma
Daily Post Nigeria, August 13, 2013

Nigerians resident in Botswana have appealed to President Goodluck Jonathan to intervene over what they described as a clear case of hatred and racism against them.

The group, which raised alarm over recent developments in the country said there was serious plan to deport majority of Nigerians from Botswana.

According to one of them, Lawrence Bassey, who also claimed to be under deportation threat, “What we experienced here in Botswana from Thursday to Friday last week was very tragic and devastating. Many law-abiding Nigeriams with official permits doing their legitimate businesses here in Botswana were massively arrested, beaten, detained and were refused visit by their relations.

“The sick ones among them were denied access to medication and their wives were not allowed to see them hence no food and care. Most disturbing is the fact that the reason for their arrest has not been disclosed to them up till the time of sending this mail (Monday) and some people who went to ask the authorities what the problem is were also detained”.

He further alleged that some Nigerians were picked up from their business places, on the road, in their cars while driving and even to the extent that the security agents (DIS) bumped their cars to get them arrested.

He said, “Another gentleman was picked up where he was buying air time simply because he did not speak Seswana. The big boss of the security agency was involved and personally decided who should be put in which prison and ordering the beating of any person who ask what he has done”.

He added that the current dehumanizing treatments being meted to Nigerians in Botswana “has nothing to do with one having resident permit or trading license but rather a clear demonstration of arrogance and deep rooted hatred for Nigerians by Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama administration”.

Bassey quoted one Mr. Kosi, a Botswana security chief as telling the Nigerian detainees that ‘Botswana does not want you Nigerians here; what we are doing is operation clean up Nigerians. If your home country cannot take care of you, it is your business not ours, so you guys must leave’.

He further noted that “Majority of the people in detention have valid permit issued to them by the immigration but unfortunately they turned around to say that it is not valid because the company is not exiting; the question now is do the Botswana Immigration issue permit to people who are not working? Or to companies which do not exist?

“We are asking the Nigerian government to please ask all Nigerians in Botswana to please vacate the country immediately because of the high level of hatred being shown to her citizens at al levels. The development has become very alarming and it is clear that our safety can no longer be guaranteed.

“If possible the Nigerian Embassy should be closed because the relationship between the two countries has broken down. Nigeria should stop issuing visa to the people of Botswana, not less than 50 – 70 Botswana citizens come to Nigeria every month but how many Nigerians come here?

“Those who apply for Botswana are being subjected to a serious check only to be denied straight away. Even Nigerian government officials are treated the same way as there is no exception.

“Before now Nigerian-owend businesses have been subjected to an untold routine check three to four times every week asking for permit, license, and asking silly questions like how many Nigerians are working here?, how many Nigerians do come here? Where are they resident? If you are courageous to ask them why they are doing this, they will tell you that they don’t want you Nigerians again”.

Mr. Rasaq Lawal, a staff of Nigerian Embassy in Botswana was also reported to have said that “the Nigerian Ambassador here is currently on home leave and Mrs. Obla who is acting for him will be in the best position to answer your questions but being a staff of the embassy I can tell you the much I know.

“We received the report of the arrest of some Nigerians here on Saturday morning and we went there immediately to meet with the authorities but we were not allowed to see the people arrested.

“We were referred to the Assistant Commissioner of Police who later granted us access to the people. We had access to discuss with them and they said they did nothing to warrant their arrest and that they have all necessary permits to reside in the country.

“We made the Botswana government to know that what they did is against international norms and demanded that our citizens should be released but the authorities declined. We went there at 8 am and we were on the matter until 4pm trying to persuade them to release our people but all to no avail.

“They are relying on municipal law which according to their arguments, it seems they don’t know the convention that binds us (Nigeria and Botswana). The convention says when ever any of our citizens is arrested the Ambassador should be notified within 24 hours but they have failed to comply.

“Our citizens are saying that they were detained without water and food for days and we have let the authorities know that it is wrong for our citizens to be detained without water more than 30 minutes except if the person is fasting. They don’t seem to understand the implication of what they are doing.
“However, we wrote them officially Monday to let them know that what they are doing is wrong because the affected persons have genuine resident permit.

“The Acting High Commissioner wrote the immigration requesting to meet with him on the issue Monday but all to no avail, we haven’t got from them officially. We learnt, though unofficially, that the authorities made a similar arrest of China citizens last week but we don’t have details. We won’t relent in defending the interest our people here. We have to continue with the struggle”.

“We counted 27 Nigerians in detention that Saturday and most of them are from Imo and Edo, Delta and Rivers States, nobody from South West and Northern states”, he added.
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