Thursday, August 6

Gabon deports 500 West Africans, including Nigerians

About 500 migrants from West African countries, including Nigerians, who were deported from Gabon, berthed at the National Inland Waterways Authority jetty in Calabar, Cross River State, on Thursday, after four days on the high sea.

One person, whose identity could not be disclosed, allegedly died shortly before the migrants departed Gabon.

They alleged that the corpse was removed from the ship, marked EMILIANA CARNEIRO L-05-IS-2017.

A breakdown of the deportees shows that 36 of them are from Nigeria, Mali (130), Burkina Faso (87), Senegal (51), Niger (39), Guinea Conakry (37), Ghana (eight), Togo (43), Benin (21) and Gambia (three).

It was learnt that the Gabonese authorities had on June 23 deported 590 citizens of other West African countries through the same Calabar waterways largely as a result of lack of valid documents.

Apart from the Nigerians, who were allowed to NIWA office to be scrutinised by the immigration authorities for proper documentation, the other deportees were escorted straight into four waiting luxurious buses with capacity of 60 passengers each and 10 Toyota Hiace buses (18-seat each).

The Controller of Nigeria Immigration Service in Cross River State, Mrs. Funke Adeuyi, confirmed that the deportees were over 500 as against the 455 figure that was in the manifest.

She said the migrants would be transported to the nearest boarder to their country, adding that the Calabar waterway was used because it was more cost effective to Gabon.

An angry Nigerian from Akwa Ibom State, Victor Elijah (35), said he could not fathom why he was deported, insisting that he had all his valid documents with him.

Elijah, who said he did legitimate business in Gabon, lamented that apart from his business that was shut down, he had unfortunately been separated from his wife, a Gabonese, and his only son.

He said, “I have spent more than 10 years in Gabon doing legitimate business. I used to travel from Gabon to Dubai to buy goods. I have all their documents required of a foreigner.

“I only had problem with my neighbour and one day, I just saw that I was to be deported. I have no regrets coming back to my country but I hope someday I will reunite with my family.”

A deported Ghanaian, Maku Adamou, admitted that he did not have a valid document.

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