Home not so sweet for 500 UK deportees
48 Nigerians were deported, 29,000 others expected next year, says NIS
THEY had placed all hopes on a better future outside the shores of Nigeria. They acted on their desires, gave all it took to see their dreams of living abroad to make ends meet a reality, only for the dream to be short-lived and truncated abruptly.
For the 500 Nigerians deported from the United Kingdom (UK) and who arrived the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, yesterday morning, it is back to the familiar past they thought they had left behind, at least, for a while, to begin afresh the struggle to keep body and soul together. Some others are stranded with nowhere to go after leaving Nigeria, several decades ago.
Many of them have been deported over illegal stay permits. A few who spoke to newsmen complained of the way they were handled by the British authorities, alleging that majority of them were not even allowed take their belongings before being deported.
More Nigerians are expected to be deported next year when an immigration policy, which requires non-EU migrants, who have spent more than five years working in the country to earn £35,000 (N10.5 million) per year or leave. It had earlier been reported that the British authorities plan to deport 29,000 Nigerians.
But in a swift reaction, the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) yesterday denied reports that 500 Nigerians were deported from the United Kingdom, stressing that only 48 persons were actually deported.
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) had on Tuesday evening reported that 500 Nigerians were already on a chartered plane, which took off from the London Stansted Airport to arrive around 6.00a.m. at the Muritala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.
According to a spokesperson of the NIS, Mr. Ekpedeme King, the 48 Nigerians were deported for overstaying their visa validity period and other immigration-related offences, adding that the 48 deportees had nothing to do with the 29,000 Nigerians the UK government announced it is planning to deport back to the country.
The Nigeria High Commission in London had last month expressed worry over plans by the migration and removal policy of the UK Government to deport 29,000 Nigerians. The Acting Nigerian High Commissioner in London, Olukunle Bamgbose, said: “I think about 29,000 Nigerians have been designated to be deported. We are insisting that due process must be followed before Nigerians are really removed from the UK to Nigeria,” he said.
He gave four conditions that should be met by the UK Immigration Office before the commission could accept the migration and deportation agenda.
“First, we must ensure that they are really Nigerians; they are medically fit to travel; all the legal processes must have been completed and that they have a role to play in Nigeria.
“You do not expect someone who has not been to Nigeria for 30 to 40 years, and does not have any family and you want to deport him. He will constitute social problems to us in Nige