Four Nigerian returnees have been detained by soldiers in Cotonou, the Benin Republic after being quarantined for 14 days in a hotel in the West African country for refusing to pay N900, 000 each for the accommodation facility.
The Nigerians who arrived in Cotonou from different parts of Europe and America, Vanguard gathered were forcefully taken to the hotel by the security officers after they were stopped by immigration officers from continuing their journey to Nigeria.
A source close to a family member of one of them said that the returnees were told by the immigration that they will only be allowed out of the country if certified COVID-19 negative.
They were later taken to the Benin Royal Hotel, allegedly owned by the President of the country against their wish and forced to stay.
In a voice mail from one of the detainees locked up in separate cells at an unknown detention camp in a remote part of the town and made available to Vanguard, said their international passports have been seized.
Narrating their ordeal in the video, he said it all started after they were declared negative for COVID-19 and a bill of N900, 000 presented to each of them to pay as charges for the accommodation in the hotel for the duration of the quarantine. And when they declared that they didn’t have such amount of money with them, the officials insisted the bill must be paid before they will be allowed to leave the country. “I was surprised when the police arrived and tried to enforce the order of payment. Later some soldiers joined, dragged us out of the hotel and took us to the detention camp.
“We were told that the government gave an order that foreigners quarantined for COVID-19 must pay their bills.”
“I arrive in Cotonou and submitted to their order that I be quarantined for 14 days to prove I was Coronavirus free. I was taken to an office where I saw other Nigerians. They seized our international passports. We protested being forced to stay in that hotel after we got to know we will be responsible for the about N40, 000 per night cost (without food). The official lodged us into the rooms and handed us over to another set of officers of the state. After the 14 days, we were issued bills to pay. The officials said it was an order by the government that every foreigner must pay.”
The Nigerian Returnee further appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to save their lives.
“We have spent four days in detention and no sign we will be released. We appeal to the Nigerian government to save our lives. We fear they
may harm us and claim we are criminals. I cannot afford that amount now and the officials are not listening to us. We don’t even know the name of where we are being detained.”
President Muhammadu Buhari should please intervene and save our lives. We have been confirmed COVID-19 free but the people here are subjecting us to this traumatic treatment, “he said.