SOME Nigerian nationals being kept at the Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) in Santa Rosa, may have fled their homeland to avoid prosecution for crimes including corruption, and Nigeria’s High Commissioner Hassan Jika Ardo says his government wants them deported to face trial back home.
Speaking on Saturday evening at the National Action Cultural Committee’s (NACC) 37th annual Emancipation Day dinner at the JFK Auditorium, UWI, St Augustine campus, Ardo said his government is on a global drive to have countries deport Nigerian nationals who fled their homeland to escape criminal prosecution. He assured that those deported will receive a fair trial back in Nigeria.
Speaking after the dinner, Ardo also called for those Nigerians who applied for asylum to the TT government on grounds of political unrest or persecution, to be treated with the same measure of humanitarian compassion as that shown to Venezuelans who fled social and political unrest in that troubled South American nation.
Ardo claimed little is known about these Venezuelans who were granted asylum/amnesty in TT based on compassionate grounds and queried if Nigerian nationals who made similar applications are given equal hearing by local authorities. Ardo told Newsday while he supports the immediate deportation of Nigerian nationals found to be fugitives from justice, if there are Nigerian detainees claiming asylum due to political persecution, they ought to be investigated and given a fair chance to be heard.
“Human beings are made equally before our Lord, why should we have different treatment? There is no reason for any discrimination. If you are talking about criminals, then Trinidad has criminals too, don’t they? I am appealing to the government of Trinidad and Tobago to do the needful,” Ardo said.
Ardo said he has had his Consular Officer sit in on local court hearings, to be kept abreast of what is happening with ongoing cases involving Nigerian nationals. He said one person was deported last week after his case was discharged. He did not state if that person will face any charge on returning to Nigeria.
In June, in the midst of registration of thousands of Venezuelan migrants, the Prime Minister said a similar amnesty would be extended to African nationals being kept in custody. Contacted for comment, National Security Minister Stuart Young yesterday said he was looking into this matter.
He recalled that in June, Dr Rowley instructed him to look at the composition of people detained in the IDC. Young said these included people from African countries, Caricom nationals and people from other countries. He explained that detainees who are facing criminal charges will be dealt with differently from those who are not.
Young also said the number of African nationals in the IDC was smaller compared to people of other nationalities. Recalling the steps which Government took to deal with Venezuelan migrants, Young said the situation with Venezuela was “a unique one” with Venezuela located only seven miles off TT. He said the situation was different when dealing with people from jurisdictions which are further away from TT.
During his feature address at the dinner, Ardo also called for Africans and people of African descent to stop taking their history for granted. Ardo said while he was heartened when he got to TT and saw “a lot of blacks” in this country, he expected to see more of Africa’s heritage on display.
He questioned how much of this country’s wealth is owned by Africans. Greetings were also delivered by Embark Moheni, chairman of the NACC and Akhenaton Daaga, NACC’s Director of Communications. (
Additional reporting by CLINT CHAN TACK)