By Rotimi Ojomoyela – Ado Ekiti
Barely a week the Nigerian Embassy in Ghana was demolished, another crisis is brewing over alleged detention of 35 Nigerians by the authority of that Country.
A group named Concerned Citizens Rights (CCR) has written to the Federal government lodging complaint over alleged detention of the Nigerians
The group, in a letter signed by its National President, Dr. Olusegun Adeola and addressed to the Chairman, Nigeria in Diaspora Commission(NiDCM), Hon. Abike Dabiri, on June 26, 2020, said the Nigerians were languishing in a border town of Aflao in Ghana located between the country and the Togo Republic.
In a copy of the letter made available to newsmen in Ado Ekiti, on Saturday, the group said, it was stunned at the level of maltreatments being allegedly meted to the victims along Ghana-Togo border, where many citizens are currently languishing in detention with no hope of being released despite their pathetic situation.
Copied were Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, and Ghana High Commission and Consulate-General in Nigeria.
Infuriated by this ugly scenario, especially coming at a time when Nigerian Embassy was destroyed in Ghana, the body pleaded with NiDCM and the Ghana High Commission and Consulate-General in Abuja and Lagos, to use their influences to intervene and secure the immediate release of these hapless Nigerians.
“Available information corroborated the fact that about 35 Nigerians are currently detained some, for more than 45 days in unsanitary conditions in the arrival hall and other locations, which can better be described as ‘concentration camps.’ They sleep on a bare concrete floor without food, and with just one toilet for all genders.
“To make matter worse, both men and women are cramped in one camp, sleeping together in flagrant violation of the detention code and convention. It was reliably informed that huge sums of money are also sized from traders among them by the immigration officers under the facade of ‘save keeping’.
“While being held incommunicado, they were made to pay 300 cedis each under duress to the immigration officers. Their phones and ECOWAS Passports were seized and without the opportunity of reaching out to members of their family since they left home, who may not even know their whereabouts, situations, and circumstances currently.
“During the investigation, we gathered that when some frustrated ones among the detainees complained after more than 30 days in detention, they were beaten, tortured, and told, “you will die here.” They were told their offense was entering Ghana illegally, even when there was an unfettered movement across borders as contained in the ECOWAS charter that bonded member states.
“These are people who have always seen Ghana as a sister country to Nigeria and Nigerians and who have previously been coming in and out of Ghana on business trips, believing they are covered under the ECOWAS Protocol Agreements”.
The CCR posited that no matter the magnitude of the offenses or crimes committed, that it was wrong for those Nigerians to be so treated in such a crude, brutish, inhumane and inhuman conditions like making fellow human beings sleep on concrete floors for weeks and months without food.
Speaking further, CCR added: “They daily buy their own foods and some are running out of money. Their treatment has nothing to do with COVID-19 because they have been tested and found negative for weeks and still kept together without social distancing and even face masks. There, men immigration officers escort women to private bathrooms, where the ‘prisoners’ pay for such services.
“Our concern is that the victims are gradually sliding into depression in their frustrating conditions and except prompt action is taken, suicide behaviors may follow. What they are facing now is surely beyond the expectations as travelers within the same sub-region.
“They crossed two Franco-Phone countries without horror and only to be so treated in their sister English speaking country. We are sure that the Ghanaian Government and the Immigration authorities would not have approved this type of inhuman treatment knowing Ghanaian democratic, Human Rights and Rule of Law values as examples in Africa and ECOWAS”.
CCR said it decided to write to blow the lid open so that investigations and appropriate actions will be taken, knowing the integrity and transparency of the Ghanaian authorities so that the good name and image of the country can be protected in Africa and globally.