LESS than an hour after a high court judge stopped the deportation of a Nigerian businessman, immigration officials put him on a plane and sent back home. Lawyers representing Precious Osahon Fred say they intend to pursue contempt of court proceedings against the Chief Immigration Officer (CIO).
On Wednesday, at about 5 pm, Justice Carol Gobin issued the order stopping Fred’s deportation until tomorrow. However, at about 5.30 pm, he was put on a Copa Airlines flight at Piarco International Airport to be sent back to Nigeria, via Panama and Argentina.
Lawyers said immigration officials were told of the court order but still deported Fred who arrived in the country on Monday, on the invitation of a car-parts dealer from Bamboo Settlement. On arriving at Piarco, Fred was questioned by an immigration officer and issued a rejection order. An employee of car-parts dealer Fareed Mohammed, also known as “Bobby from the Bamboo,” said Fred was invited there on business.
The immigration officer told Fred he was lying when he said Mohammed bought his return ticket for him at a local travel agency. Fred’s passport was seized and he was made to sign the rejection order. His lawsuit against the CIO said he was scheduled to depart Trinidad on June 13. Fred claims there was no evidence of a deportation order being issued, nor was he allowed to appeal the decision to issue the rejection order.
At the time his attorneys Farid Scoon and Criston J Williams approached the court on Wednesday, Fred was being kept at the Airport Suites Hotel at Factory Road in Piarco and was told he was to be deported at 4 pm. Fred is the third Nigerian to challenge his deportation in recent weeks.
The immigration officials’ action mirrored the deportation of a number of Venezuelans who were repatriated in April, although a legal challenge against the State was pending before the court. Fred has kept in contact with his attorneys by mobile phone. At 4 pm yesterday, he was in Argentina awaiting a flight to Ethiopia and then to Nigeria.