Nigerians and indeed other Africans living in India are faced with daily molestations and harassments for either over-staying or some visa issues. They get arrested by the Indian police and assembled like criminals. The Nigerian Embassy in India has not taken any steps to alleviate the situation nor has the Nigerian government as at the time of compiling this interview in which Pointer Express spoke with a Nigerian businessman residing in India Mr Odo Amos Ikechukwu. The issue has been on the news headlines in India for a while now as though it is a planned operation.
“…I mean taking retaliatory actions. I reminded the Ambassador that the former Nigerian Ambassador to India had similar experience but he came out boldly and issued a note of warning to Indian authority and the harassment of Nigerians in India stopped then.”
Here are excerpts of the interview with Mike Odeholonta
Q. Kindly introduce yourself.
A. My name is Odo Amos Ikechukwu. I am from Enugu Ezike, in Igbo Eze North Enugu state.
Q. What do you do for a living?
A. I am a businessman and I live in India, I am into the sales of garments. I export garments and natural Indian hair to Nigeria.
Q. Kindly describe the situation of Nigerians staying in India?
A. There have been massive arrests of Africans recently especially Nigerians in a state called Karnataka. The government of that state claims that the Nigerians have overstayed their visas and their work permits have expired and therefore they should be deported.
Q. What steps have you taken to redress the situation?
A. Actually I spoke with our Ambassador Major General Chris Eze and it seems he can’t calm the situation, because the information reaching me now is that the arrested Nigerians will be deported back to Nigeria any moment from now. I wanted Our Ambassador to ensure that the Nigerian authority retaliates for that will automatically bring the two countries to negotiating table. There are many Indians living in Nigeria without valid visas and our government gives them protection. So why should they be treating Nigerians like animals here in India?
Q. Why then have the Nigerians not validated their documents?
A. This is not the case, what is happening is the case of hate, racism and xenophobia. Most of those arrested said that all their documents are intact. And that it is just a ploy to get them deported.
Q. Are you sure those arrested are not into drugs abuse or laundering?
A, Not at all! They were arrested based on visa related issues.
Q. Why then are the authorities more concerned about Nigerians staying there?
A. The truth of the matter is that they are not fighting war against illicit drugs or other related issues. They are rather they are rather clamping down on Nigerians staying here without valid visas they claim. It is not about drugs at all.
Q. For How long have these arrests been going on?
A. They started since July 12th and are still continuing. In this month of August alone, the crackdown was around was from 9th to 12th. What is painful is that those arrested are in terrible situations; they are not given food or drink and have not been allowed to bath or drink.
Q. You said you have contacted the Nigerian Embassy, what was their response?
A. I spoke with our Ambassador Major General Chris Eze (rtd) and I pleaded with him to retaliate for that will automatically stop government of Karnataka state from deporting our people but he said he can’t do that it doesn’t work that way. I mean taking retaliatory actions. I reminded the Ambassador that the former Nigerian Ambassador to India had similar experience but he came out boldly and issued a note of warning to Indian authority and the harassment of Nigerians in India stopped then.
Q. What call have you for the Nigerian Government?
A. The best Nigerian government can do to put a stop to it is retaliatory action and that will put a stop to it.