Nigerian visa applicant tortured at Polish Embassy
The deaths and killings of Nigerians in Diaspora are lamentable, but if back home in Nigeria fellow citizens are treated like animals, where is our locus to demand and expect decent treatment from foreigners abroad?
When a friend was telling me the story of a Nigerian beaten to pulp a Polish Embassy, my mind expected another disheartening story of innocent Nigerians whose only crime was to find themselves as economic migrants in a foreign land suffering ill-treatment and brutality from another western country.
But lo and behold, it was Mr Rasaq Salami, an Abuja-based businessman, who left his home in the early hours of Friday, March 20, 2009, to visit the Polish Embassy, located in the capital city of his own country, Abuja to retrieve the passport of his friend, Mr Mustapha Bakare which had been submitted for visa.
According to the SUN Newspapers, Soon after stepping into the premises of the Polish Embassy in Abuja, Salami was beaten black and blue by police officers attached to the embassy. After the security operatives finished with him, Salami was taken straight to the Maitama General Hospital where he was still recuperating almost two weeks after his ordeal.
Salami’s story to Sunday Sun was that Nigerian policemen and other security operatives at the embassy premises pounced on him like a common felon. According to him, his trouble started about 1.30 pm when he arrived at the embassy. They knocked at the gate and heard a voice, probably that of the security man, asking them “my friend, who is that knocking on the window?”
“From nowhere, the private security man opened the gate and a police constable started raining abuses on me. I asked him to tell me my sin for which he was insulting me”, he said.
According to him, the angry policeman got annoyed that he dared reply and challenge him and threatened to slap him.
“When I challenged him further that it was not proper for him to slap me without knowing my sin and the purpose of my visit, he held my shirt and dragged me into the compound and started punching and hitting me on the head, kicking me when I fell down on the ground,” he said.
Thoroughly overawed, Salami continued, “When I managed to get up, I headed to the door of the building but the police officer went in, dressed properly and brought out his gun and continued hitting me on my leg with the gun until my leg got broken…They tagged me a criminal and terrorist, and a white man standing by the door urged them to deal with me. When they were done with me, they asked me to walk out of the compound. But already I had fracture on my right leg and I told them I could not stand and so I could not walk. They dragged me out of the gate.”
According to the SUN, the Polish Ambassador Designate, Przemyslaw Niesiolowski, confirmed the incident but denied reports that he supervised his beating and ordered the police to deal with him. He claimed he was not in Abuja at the time the incident occurred but refuted claims by Salami and his friend, Bakare, that they were at the embassy to collect Bakare’s passport but justified the action of the security men against the victim.
It is unfortunate to say the least, that Nigerians would suffer this indignity in their homelands. Before this we hade been regaled with news of deaths and killings of Nigerians in Diaspora. There have been cases of Nigerians killed in Belgium, China, Ukraine and Spain in 2009 alone.
In Spain 2007, a Nigerian whose only offence was that he had no resident permit and therefore had to be deported was beaten, injected with what was later known as a tranquilizer with his mouth being closed with a plastic tape and both hands and legs firmly tied with ropes. They loaded him into the plane covering him with a sack thereby preventing him from passengers view. His killers tied his hands and legs with mouth closed and killed as common criminal.
In 2001 – The result of the autopsy of the Nigerian Samson Chukwu, who died during the procedure of a forcible deportation in Granges near Sion does not leave any doubt: The police officers have applied a method for handcuffing the Nigerian, which is well-known for being possibly lethal, and of whose application is warned in the appropriate literature. Forcing the victim to lie on the stomach with the hands cuffed behind the back, including a police officer to press on the thorax, prevented the necessary respiration. This led to the asphyxia of Samson Chukwu.
In 1999, a 25-year-old Nigerian asylum-seeker, Marcus Omofuma suffocated after being gagged and bound during his forced deportation from Vienna to Nigeria, via Sofia, Bulgaria On 15 April, after more than 50 hours of deliberation, Korneuburg Regional Court found the three police officers guilty of the crime of ‘negligent manslaughter in particularly dangerous conditions and sentenced them to eight-month suspended prison terms. The verdict was criticized by some civil society groups due to its alleged leniency. Despite the verdicts of guilt, the police officers will continue to serve in the police force.
In March 1999, a Brussels court decided that five gendarmes should stand trial in connection with the death in September 1998 of Semira Adamu, a 20-year-old rejected asylum seeker from Nigeria after an attempt to deport her forcibly from Brussels-National airport led to her death.
Officers pushed her face into a cushion placed on the knees of one of them and pressed down on her back, she began to struggle. The so-called ”cushion technique” – a method of restraint authorized by the Ministry of Interior at that time but since banned – allowed gendarmes to press a cushion against the mouth, but not the nose. Semira Adamu’s face was pressed against the cushion for over 10 minutes and she fell into a coma as her brain became starved of oxygen. She died of a brain haemorrhage later that day.
These deaths and killings of Nigerians in Diaspora are lamentable, but if back home in Nigeria fellow citizens are treated like animals, where is our locus to demand and expect decent treatment from foreigners abroad?