By Peter Okutu
ABAKALIKI-THE Federal Government has been called upon to widen the scope of its repatriation project to cover not only Nigerians stranded in Libya but also those held in deportation camps in Asian countries such as India and Malaysia.
Speaking with South-East Voice in Abakaliki, a Nigerian who was recently deported from India for having issues with his travelling documents, Mr Chukwudi Onu explained that at least 150 Nigerians were languishing in deportation camp in India.
Narrating his ordeal, Mr Onu who is from Uburu in Ohaozara Local Government Area of Ebonyi State lamented that his wife and three children are still stranded in India following his arrest and deportation in May this year.
“I have been living in India for the past six years, I travelled with my family in December 2011 and on May 15th, I was arrested by Indian Immigration Police over expired visa, from there to deportation camp where I spent over a month before I was deported to Nigeria.”
Mr Onu said Indian government had become hostile to Nigerians recently, alleging that even those with valid passports were most times arrested and hauled into deportation camp, only to be released after their papers must have been verified.
He noted that so many Nigerians in the camp had been there for over one year without any hope of returning as they had not been able to raise money for their tickets.
“Yes there were over one thousand, five hundred Nigerians, because in my room, I think we were over 60 and they have over 21 rooms. There are places for Pakistanis and Afghanistans, I think I saw one Polish and an Australian, but the population of Nigerians is 20 to one of other nationals.”
Mr Onu explained that his family had been kicked out of their apartment over unpaid bills and could not go to deportation camp because of the harsh treatment being meted out to Nigerians.
“My family is staying in an open church, even to raise money for their air tickets is an uphill task for me. I have been reaching out to the government and Nigerian High Commission in India. Right now, I am appealing to Ebonyi State Government because I am from Uburu in Ohaozara Local Government Area and well-meaning Nigerians to help me rescue my family.”
The deportee said he was worried about the condition of his family as the weather in India presently is too cold, noting that he was paying $800 for their rent from Nigeria until he ran out of cash. He stated that air ticket for his wife and three children from New Delhi to Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu, would cost a total of $4,000 but would prefer tickets.
“Each ticket from New Delhi to Enugu is about N312,000 multiplied by four which is about N1.2 million but I have been able to raise about N200,000 by myself. I am only appealing to the federal and Ebonyi State governments as well as well meaning Nigerians to assist. I don’t really need the cash, if tickets are bought from any travelling agency, I will send to them.
“I run a restaurant in New Delhi, CJ African Restaurant as well as Medical Tourism Management business to help those on medical trip with necessary logistics.”
Mr Onu, however, blamed himself for his travail pointing out that he failed to renew his papers because he travelled with a medical visa which required that he returns to Nigeria before applying for a permanent visa.