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The Nigerian Embassy as a Deportation Agency
The Nigerian Embassy as a Deportation Agency
By Olushola Adeagbo, Maxim Kammerer & Gerit Boekbinder
Tuesday, 25 March 2008
Whose Ambassadors are these?
Over the last few years, European governments have managed to tighten their immigration laws leading ultimately to the construction of “fortress Europe”. As a result, refugees as a rule are routinely denied asylum. According to Spiegel magazine (a leading German newsmagazine) only one in a thousand African refugees is offered asylum in Germany. Those whose asylum applications have been denied have to be deported back to their countries of origin, forcefully and against their will.
We would like to point out that all the countries in Europe and Africa are signatories to the United Nations Organisation (UNO) Declaration on Human Rights and the Geneva Convention on Refugees. This declaration recognises the right of Asylum as a fundamental human right. However, with the new immigration laws of the western European countries, especially Germany, this fundamental human right is being denied to refugees and other legal immigrants are also facing hard times. And the embassies of African countries, especially the Nigerian embassy, are playing a shameful role supporting this deportation policy:
While most asylum seekers do not have any travel or identification documents, it therefore becomes necessary for these refugees to be identified by their countries’ embassies so as to issue travel documents which will facilitate their deportation. Without this identification and issuance of a travel document, no refugee can be deported. It is one of the most shocking aspects of the treatment of African refugees in Germany that the embassies of African countries are collaborating in this desecration of fundamental human rights. The most prominent of these collaborators is the Nigerian embassy in Germany. In order to facilitate the quick deportation of Nigerian refugees living in Germany, the German authorities are conniving with Nigerian embassy officials by bringing these officials all the way from Berlin to different places all over Germany, where Nigerians are forced to attend so-called Identification hearings with these officials for the purpose of issuing travel documents for their deportation, against their will. It has come to an extent that such embassy hearings with the Nigerian embassy are taking place every month, each time in another region and another city of Germany. The Nigerian embassy officials were in Munich in August 2007, in January 2008 they were in Halberstadt, in February they were in Dortmund and in March they were in Ludwigsburg.
The aim of the German authorities is clear: Accelerating massive deportation of Nigerian citizens! And not only of Nigerian citizens: Even people from other African countries, like Liberia, Togo or Sudan, are forced to attend these hearings, with the aim to deport them to Nigeria as well. It seems as if the Nigerian embassy has become a central agency for the deportation of African migrants and refugees!
Why do the Nigerian embassy officials allow themselves to be used in this way? The answer is that for every refugee that is issued a travel document thereby paving the way for his eventual forceful deportation, the embassy is paid a certain sum of money by the German authorities: They receive 250 Euro for every interview and 250 Euro more for every travel document! This means a total of 500 Euros for every refugee that is invited and finally issued a travel document. It would be interesting to know what happens to the money these embassy officials receive from the German authorities. Does it go into the federal government account or into the pockets of the embassy officials?
The invited refugees are not informed about the purpose of these invitations and are even forced through various repressive means, including imprisonment, by the local German authorities to attend these hearings. So the truth is that the embassy officials receive money to facilitate the denial of fundamental human rights by a foreign country to Nigerian and other African citizens living in this foreign country.
One common argument by the Nigerian government is that Nigerians disgrace the country by living abroad illegally and that they should all come home since there is no Problem in Nigeria. In terms of security of life and property, is Nigeria safer after Obasanjo’s two terms as President? What is the current state of the Nigerian Police force? What is the current state of the Nigerian Prison system considering the fact that Obasanjo himself was a guest there shortly before he was handpicked by his political godfathers and catapulted into Aso-Rock?
On the political level, we all witnessed the last elections which ushered in our current President, Umaru Yar’Adua. Was it a free and fair election? Is it not shameful that the freest and fairest election in Nigerian history held on June 12, 1993 was annulled? Is it not shameful that during elections in Nigeria hundreds of people have to lose their lives and the last one was no exception? Have we found out who killed our former Justice Minister (whose wife incidentally was also a Justice of the Federal Appeal Court) Chief Bola Ige? Is there peace today in the Niger-Delta after two terms of “Democracy” in Nigeria? If an eminent international figure like Chief Bola Ige who was Nigerian Justice Minister to boot could be killed and nobody could be held responsible, then who is actually safe in Nigeria? Is it the common man on the streets who is safe?
The truth of the matter is that Nigerian leaders have been the most significant source of shame for Nigeria as a nation and not refugees who flee for political, economic or whatever reasons. Simply put, our leaders have failed us. It is therefore revolting, to say the least, for these same leaders to turn back and accuse refugees who are fleeing their inhuman and failed leadership adventures of bringing shame to the country. A classic case of the farmer who did not discover the thief on time thereby giving the thief the chance to accuse the farmer of stealing!
On June 9, 2007 a 23 years old Nigerian, Osamuyiwa Aikpitanhi was killed by Spanish police officers during a forced deportation. They handcuffed him, chained his legs, gagged him with his mouth completely closed with industrial strength rubber or duck-tape and put a twine-bag or sack over his head, once out of public view, they pummelled him, until he suffocated and asphyxiated. One does need to add that this kind of treatment is inhuman to say the least and negates all UN and EU conventions on human rights to which Spain and Nigeria are signatories. It also needs no saying that this deportation would not have been possible without the active co-operation of the Nigerian embassy in Spain. Till now, we are yet to hear of any official complaints for this dastardly act from the Nigerian government and the Nigerian embassy in Spain or even any explanation or apology from the Spanish side. We wonder how the officials who received money to sign for the deportation of this young man would be feeling now, assuming they have any conscience…..which we seriously doubt.
A recent study by an organ of the UN reported that the total annual development aid given by western nations to Africa was less than half of the total cash remittances to Africa by Africans living outside Africa. This means that Africans living in the western world actually contribute more to the economic stability of their countries than even the African governments and Western governments. There is virtually no Nigerian family that does not have a relative living abroad! This fact is of course lost to Nigerian embassy officials in Germany who as usual are only thinking about whatever money they can make from colluding in the deportation of fellow Nigerians against all known national and international human rights regulations.
This phenomenon is a sad reminder of the era of slavery when local chiefs and community leaders sold fellow Africans to European slavers. Now Africans who fled to Europe to escape hunger, wars and the irresponsible leadership of their elite are being deported from Europe by the same irresponsible elite who caused them to flee in the first place. It is indeed a shame that 200 years after the official end of slavery and 50 years after the official end of colonialism, the African elite is still being used as a tool by the West for the subjugation and oppression of the African people.
It is therefore with a great sense of shame and disappointment that we witness the recent flurry of visits by the Nigerian embassy officials to various German cities in order to collude with German authorities in facilitating mass deportations of Nigerians from Germany. We wonder how many Nigerians will have to suffer the type of humiliating death that Mr Aikpitanhi died before our embassy officials stop putting ill-gotten wealth ahead of their humanity and reason.
We hereby call on all Nigerians and other Africans to protest this atrocious action by embassy officials who are supposed to be representing the interest of their citizens in a foreign land but who end up signing the death warrants of these citizens. It is not a crime to be a refugee especially when you come from a country where visionless, callous and kleptomaniac leaders reign!
Olushola Adeagbo, Maxim Kammerer & Gerit Boekbinder
[Editor's Note: Attached below is a template of a protest letter sent in by the author.]
To The Ambassador,
Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,
Neue Jakobstr. 4
Via Fax: +49-(030) 21230212
Via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Your Excellency, Ambassador Abdul-Kadir Bin Rimdap,
I am writing this letter with regard to the issue of recent forced embassy appointments for Nigerian refugees living in Germany. I feel this issue is very important for the relationship between the Nigerian Mission in Germany and Nigerian citizens residing in Germany. I have recently learnt that the Nigerian Embassy has been holding a series of such hearings in various German cities including Munich, Halberstadt, Dortmund and Ludwigsburg in order to issue Nigerian citizens, residing with exceptional leave to remain (Duldung) in Germany, with travel certificates for the purpose of facilitating their deportation against their expressed will. I feel that this is in stark contrast with my view that a Nigerian Mission should have an interest in the welfare of all Nigerian citizens living abroad.
The dishonourable circumstances under which such hearings take place clearly constitute a humiliation and a violation of the human rights of those whose welfare you should have a personal interest in and thus, any kind of such cooperation is prohibitive.
I call upon you not to give in to the demands of the German authorities, who want you to aid in the forced repatriation of Nigerian citizens residing with exceptional leave to remain (Duldung) in Germany. I rather urge you to refuse any such services as the embassies of many countries do without any hesitation.
I also would like to remind you that many Nigerian citizens were injured, traumatised and even died as a result of the violence that was visited upon them during their forcible return to Nigeria. In 1994, Kola Bankole choked on a sock that German officers forced into his mouth. In 1998, Semira Adamu perished while being deported from Belgium while in 1999, Marcus Omofuma met the same fate on his deportation from Austria. On the 9th of June 2007, Osamuyia Aikpitanhi died while being deported from Spain, an event that sparked outrage of Nigerians all over the world.
I am also aware that the Nigerian embassy officials receive a sum of 500 Euros from the German authorities for each travel certificate issued. This payment by the German authorities is very questionable.
I have decided to write you this letter because I believe that being an accomplished diplomat, you understand very well the issues involved in the politics of global migration. I also believe that from your background, you will share my moral and intellectual conviction, which is also enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, that migrants are entitled to protection due to humanitarian considerations, instead of being further intimidated, victimised and ultimately being inhumanely forcibly deported.
I thank you for your anticipated kind co-operation.
- The Nigerian Embassy as a Deportation Agency
"Nigeria Village Square" internet-forum
RefugeeNews/RNN - Embassy Hearing on Deportation in Ludwisburg, Baden-Württemberg
"Nigeria Village Square" internet-forum
RefugeeNews/RNN - Embassy's Hearing on Deportation in Ludwisburg,Baden-Württemberg
The new Monster for Asylum seekers in Germany.
We accept the universal fact that as humans, we have a duty to obey the general rules and regulations governing any environment we find ourselves.
Nevertheless, it is human when people in positions of Authority apply discretion in the cause of dispensing their duties in such ways that does not conflict with the laid down laws.
It is also an obvious fact that asylum seekers are entitled to the benefits of the basic rights and necessities enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
From the German perspective however, experience has shown that as an asylum seeker, one is regarded as being ‘less than a human being’. Hence, the inhuman treatment and ceaseless pressures such as packaged food, 20.45euros (fortnightly) pocket money, confined residence (residenzpflicht), limited health care and other forms of arbitrary denial of personal privacy and dignity amongst others. The only ‘sin’ of these refugees was to seek protection in Germany; a country that prides itself as the most developed in Europe, a bastion of democracy and model for human right practices as enjoined by the UDHR-to which Germany is signatory.
It goes further. Letters were distributed by local foreigners’ offices to asylum seekers who are listed for identification exercise (for the purpose of forced and violent deportation) in cooperation with ‘mobile consulate’ sitting in designated German locations.
It was strange to know that while some victims had detailed description of the destination for such exercise, some had just the name of the City while others had no formal notice until the Police came in at the middle of the night to pick them up.
This identification exercise has been a routine practice in all parts of Germany but recent investigation revealed a shocking attitude in the way it has always been conducted at Ludwisburg, Baden-Wüttemberg.
Confirmation of what had always seem rumour was proven recently that the police had extended their intimidation tactics to striping the victims totally naked, asking them to bow and open their anus as well as taking note of any visible scar found on their body. Refugees/asylum seekers were further photographed and fingerprinted just as it was done at the ‘Bundesamt’ - the initial asylum application point.
This utterly dehumanising act has been on over the years, as previous victims explained.
Another victim expressed his embarrassment from the comment of a police officer *shone arsch* after being compelled to take off his underwear.
When asked why they could not resist this inhuman treatment, the response was, “we feared being brutalised and based on the fact that we were in their hands, we could hardly think of a way to immediately resist as we were too shocked”.
Further investigation confirmed that the address "140/7 Osterholzalle" for this routine exercise is a building housing the criminal Police in Ludwisburg hence one could imagine the possibility of Camera installations covering this awful nightmare.
I was also faced with such forced identification exercise even when my embassy called the RP accompanied by a fax to confirm my identity as at 2006 when I was asked by the RP to go and identify myself at my Embassy.
This time i was meant to appear at Dullarc allee 100, Karlsruhe in April 2007. I went there on my own as I felt it was an embarrassment for the police to treat me with such disrespect as those who had refused to adhere to the RP request to appear at their embassy.
It was a very tense atmosphere with Police officers on anti-riot outfit as if it was a war situation. We were thoroughly searched and striped of all our belongings until the end of the process. After this search, a Statement written in Deutsch was given to us for signature and when I insisted on translation, I was given an acclaimed English translation but was compelled to sign the Deutsch version even when I felt there were discrepancies in both copies.
We were further sent into a room where we were expected to remain for as much as 5hrs or more until it gets to one’s time to appear before representatives of both the Embassy and German authorities.
When anyone wished to use the toilet, he/she was escorted by a police officer who stands by the door which must be left open, resulting in a lot of unease and sometimes diverting the real intention. It was a stark reminder of the torture tactics of General Abacha and die hard Nigerian Politicians against their opposition.But this is Germany of the 21st century in the heart of Europe.
Locked up in that room with fellow victims, all we could see through the only available window were more victims who were brought to the venue on handcuffs and strong police parade
We are yet to confirm if this is merely a means of intimidation designed by the German authorities with their police officers or simply the norm.
However, we also have not ascertained if the embassy authorities are aware of the treatment meted to their citizens.
This situation has gone beyond the issue of identifying the nationalities of the victims but rather an issue of inhuman treatment against foreigners here in Germany.
Enough is enough for all these indignities perpetuated by the German authorities. We deem it absolutely necessary for reputable human right representatives to be part of such exercises as this will reduce the rate of intimidation and connivance in the abhorrent deportation of asylum seekers.
Furthermore, we enjoin everyone to be watchful and critical of these practices of the German government and that such activities as in Ludwisburg amounts to the full abuse of Article 4,5,9 and 12 of the UDHR.