By Vera Samuel Anyagafu
FOLLOWING the deportation of a large number of Nigeria nationals under harsh and unfriendly treatment from South Africa early this year, with a flimsy excuse of having produced fake Yellow Fever Vaccine cards, and perhaps, unauthenticated documentation, a victim who refused to disclose his full names for reason of security, but simply demanded to be identified as Baldwin was up to his limits as he narrated his ordeal through processes of deportation from South Africa.
The action which Baldwin described as inhumane should be an issue that should be tackled from the root between the two missions, so as to avoid a re-occurrence.
It is apparent from the stories being told by Baldwin and other affected victims, that Nigerian embassy in South Africa has failed in their primary duty of providing Nigerians in South Africa with effective consular services hence, the unwarranted treatment those deported were made to go through, not considering their economic input in the Country.
Investigations on the matter, however, revealed that Nigerians who are resident in South Africa are disappointed with the undesired deportation of their fellow compatriots.
They maintained that the Nigerian embassy is lagging in effective consular services which is the reason Nigerians should look inwards for means of livelihood, rather than travel to other Countries to indulge in health hazards jobs or those that could take their lives, Mr. Joshua, resident in Johannesburg alleged that he had on several occasions, visited the embassy with reports on how Nigerians are being accused wrongly of committing different levels of crimes, but to his dismay, the embassy never addressed the matter.
According to Mr. Joshua who spoke via a telephone, “South Africa’s Immigration authorities, to my understanding, were not properly briefed, otherwise, they should be in tune with international best practices and not cause diplomatic rows between Nigeria and their country.
“If possible, Nigerian government should on one hand introduce effective and responsive consular services to their citizens in diaspora, so as to indicate to every offending country, the importance of every Nigeria citizen abroad. Until this is done, I fear that we Nigerians will continue to be treated as those who have no hope of survival in their Country.”
Speaking also with Vanguard Consular Advisory, Mr. Chinedu a businessman in Cape town South Africa, condemns the hostile treatment meted to deportees.
He argued that the problem is not only pathetic, but also embarrassing to a Country that is known as the giant of Africa, stating that “ every embassy has a laid down prerequisites for permit into their Country and if one of South Africa’s is provision of authentic Yellow Fever Vaccine Card, as one of the given entry conditions that is specified by South Africa Port Health, then the whole lot of Nigerians that were deported under alleged fake Yellow Fever Vaccine Cards have the right to appeal against their deportation since, there is a directive that before you will be issued with a South Africa Visa, you must have been proven to have been vaccinated against yellow fever disease.
“And if this is one of the Country’s stipulated rules, it then means that every Nigeria who has been issued a South Africa visa, must have been vaccinated, and in turning back Nigerians, they have on the other hand gone against their slated laws as it concerns prerequisites guiding entry permit of foreign nationals.”
He added that, “ Nigeria government should on their part tackle the situation by way of totally eradicating corruption in Nigeria to avoid some of these embarrassing misconception, whereby a Nigeria, even after producing authentic documentation, will still be treated as a fraudster, which of course, is an indication that Nigerians are viewed as being synonymous with fake.”
Although Baldwin and other aggrieved Nigerians are not exonerating South Africa totally from the group of countries that make visa procurement very cumbersome for Nigerians thus throwing them into a state of confusion each time they are denied visa, they are agitating that the Federal government of Nigeria should look into the activities of these embassies in Nigeria to forestall further humiliation.
More so, Nigerians are appealing to the ambassador of South Africa Amb Sonni Yusuf to rekindle efforts towards improving the image of Nigerians by protecting their human rights and defending the just.