The attention of the Embassy of Nigeria in Stockholm, Sweden with concurrent accreditation to Finland, Norway and Denmark has been drawn to the publication of 12th December, 2014 in some Nigerian newspapers regarding the deportation of Nigerians from the Nordic countries and wishes to state that the story was fundamentally flawed and misrepresents the facts.
Quite surprisingly, almost all the newspapers with the exception of “The Nation” ran the headlines – “Over 100 Nigerians Deported from Finland”. The Nation was more accurate with its headline in terms of the number of countries from which the deportees were drawn from, by stating – “Over 100 Nigerians deported from Norway, Denmark, others”.
The Embassy of Nigeria therefore deems it appropriate to set forth the critical facts of the matter in order to assist you inform your wide readership, responsibly and in consonance with the high professional journalistic standards for which your newspapers are generally known. The said facts are as follows:
Forty seven (47) Nigerians and not 100 (one hundred) as widely publicized in Nigerian newspapers, (Punch, The Nation and Daily TimesNG among others) were deported from 8 European countries, namely (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Portugal, Switzerland, Denmark, Spain and Italy) with the following breakdown:
i. Norway 28
ii. Finland 5
iii. Sweden 2
iv. Denmark 9
v. Switzerland 1
vi. Spain 1
vii. Italy 1
It is the responsibility of all Embassy’s abroad to protect their citizens and attend to all Consular issues that may arise in the receiving state and the Embassy of Nigeria in Sweden is not an exception. It is pertinent to state, that the Embassy has dutifully and professionally carried out these functions by attending to all consular matters concerning Nigerians which are brought to its attention, either by our host authorities directly or through the normal course of performing Consular duties and establishing contacts. The Embassy has made interventions and consistent appeals for Nigerians with genuine cases to the host authorities and continues to resist any attempt to compromise the dignity and best interests of Nigerians who in the majority, remain law abiding.
It is also important to remark that some of the prospective deportees, though a minority, violate the immigration laws of the respective host countries and when all Administrative processes including at the Appeal Court level do not yield positive results, they will be deported. Others who are involved in drug related offences or other forms of criminal offences are also brought forward for deportation at the expiration of their term sentences. Indeed 12 (twelve) of the 28 deportees from Norway had been convicted for various drug related crimes.
Several other malicious allegations were made by one Mr. Isaac Ejiofor stating “The Nigerian Embassy Finland refused to come to my aid, even after I paid 1,500 Euros to the Embassy official”. A second unidentified person was quoted as saying that officials of the Nigerian Embassy in Finland colluded with some Finnish Immigration officers to extort money from Asylum seekers in the camp” and that “the Embassy officials promised to assist them to get work permits from the Finnish authorities”.
The Embassy wishes to inform that there is no Nigerian Embassy physically on the ground in Helsinki, Finland. The Mission is located in Stockholm, Sweden. The Embassy further wishes to inform categorically that NO Embassy officials collected money from either the deportees or the host authorities of Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark to facilitate the deportation of the Nigerian citizens. There is not a single iota of truth in this allegation.
It is shocking that such allegations could be believed, talk less of being published by your esteemed organization without any attempt being made to apply journalistic ethics and seek for some degree of proof or confirmation. Does it seem feasible that the Immigration officials of one of the most transparent countries in the world, Finland would connive with Nigerian Embassy officials for the purpose of taking money from innocent Nigerians? You must remember that the Embassy of Nigeria, Stockholm and its officials are operating in a region of the world (Nordics) where there is zero tolerance for corruption. It is pertinent to state, that the Embassy has no control over the deportation of any Nigerian who violates the host countries immigration laws or those involved in criminal or drug related matters.
It is also significant to remark that Mr. Ejiofor Isaac who granted the interview to the Newspapers was in fact deported from Oslo, Norway and not Finland as he claimed in the Newspapers publication of 12th December, 2014.
The Embassy identified Mr. Ejiofor as a Nigerian when the Norwegian authorities invited the Embassy for possible identification of its citizens in the Trandum detention camp in Oslo, Norway. He came to Norway to seek for Asylum and the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration denied his application on the 20th June, 2014, due to the fact that he did not meet the necessary criteria for asylum seekers. He made an appeal on 23rd June, 2014 to the Immigration Appeal Board and his appeal was also denied on 9th August, 2014. During his stay in Norway, it was alleged that, Ejiofor was involved in some drug related incidents and illegal activity. He was consequentially expelled from Norway and has also been reported to the Schengen Information System due to his failure to leave Norway and the Schengen Area.
In order to ensure that the deportees are not left stranded on arrival in Nigeria, the Nigerian Embassy negotiated with the host authorities to provide financial assistance ranging from 300 – 400 Euros, to facilitate their onward transportation to their final destination, depending on where they have stated as their final destination in Nigeria.
It is therefore disturbing to realize that Nigerian Newspapers such as yours (Punch, The Nation and Daily TimesNG among others) which are held in high esteem by the public, could publish such news items and interviews obtained from a deportee without verification as to its authenticity or the role played by the Nigerian Embassy in Sweden regarding the entire deportation process.
It is unfortunate that you would lend your respected medium to be used to attempt to stain the integrity of hard working officials of the Embassy and indeed the good image of the Embassy which has been built up over the last 3½ years under the leadership of Ambassador Benedict Onochie Amobi. The Embassy will continue to defend the rights, dignity and interests of all Nigerians in its area of jurisdiction, including those that commit crimes. However, the Mission has zero tolerance for any drug dealer carrying a Nigerian passport who is responsible in large part for the opprobrium and negative image that impacts and affects all law abiding Nigerians who travel the globe and carry a green passport. The Mission will continue faithfully with the protection of its citizens and the extension of service based diplomacy and will not be swayed by the efforts of some disgruntled elements.
At the same time, the Embassy appeals to your organization to kindly do the needful and obtain proof of allegations made against persons or institutions including those made by Mr. Ejiofor. Your Newspapers should attempt to ascertain from Nigerians in the Nordic countries who number well over 16,000 the positive role their Embassy plays in maintaining excellent relations with all Nigerians, conducting an open door policy and providing efficient and effective service delivery.
It is hoped that your esteemed newspaper will provide an equally prominent position on its pages and bring the truth to the attention of its numerous readers.
Thank you for your efforts and anticipated kind cooperation.
Embassy of Nigeria
19th December, 2014