Shame of Nigerian government as it shows lack of care for citizens abroad

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Foreign Minister Odein Ajumogobia
Foreign Minister Odein Ajumogobia

Only recently and as it is a usual practice in many parts of the world  as we read in the news constantly,another spate of maltreatment was meted out to some Nigerians living in Warsaw, the capital city of Poland.

This latest incident, like some past ones claimed the life of a Nigerian, while 32 other foreigners, mostly Nigerians were arrested.

The unfortunate Nigerian, Maxwell Itoya died of gun-shot injury, after police raided some Nigerian traders selling shoes at the bazaar at the Stadium in the Praga district of Warsaw.

Maxwell was trying to intervene in the case of Police arrest and brutal treatment of another handcuffed Nigerian when he was shot in the stomach. Max, who had lived many years in Warsaw was legally married to Monika, a Polish woman, and has three children, aged 10, four, and two.

While Nigerian government through its foreign ministry has called for immediate and full inquiry into the killing of her citizen, Polish police spokesman Mariusz Sokolowski said his country’s prosecutor’s office has already began investigation into the assault against a policeman, and would determine if the policeman had broken the law by firing his gun.

However, the Polish police was quick to give the media another version of the same story reporting that the ill-fated Nigerian was running away from patrol team, and was chased into the market place, where the policeman handcuffing him mistakenly shot him when mob protesting his arrest tried to besiege him.

Even if this version is true, resisting arrest shouldn’t be a justification to take the life of a foreigner, especially in a highly racist country like Poland, where such incident would definitely be associated with xenophobic outburst.

In Nigeria, hardly would there be an incident of police brutalising white foreigners; even though the Nigeria police are good at brutalising their own countrymen.

Definitely, it is expected the Polish police would have to defend themselves and blame the protesting mob. Sokolowski in defence of his colleagues said “This man could have been saved and police officers started to resuscitate him, but they were repeatedly attacked with stones by a group of foreigners and were forced to defend themselves, and had to stop the resuscitation”.

In civilised society of which Poland belongs, tear gas is usually used by police to disperse angry or protesting crowd not live bullets? If the victim was to be Polish citizen I dare say the police man wouldn’t shoot him to death.

A Nigerian named Caesar living in Warsaw, who claim to be an eyewitness to this deadly act in the marketplace, said the Polish police are usually brutal to blacks, and highly segregate against them. According to him, “this is the latest in a long line of police abuse and brutality towards blacks in this predominately racist country”. “The open air market place, which is referred to as Stadium, is made up of mainly Ukrainians and Vietnamese traders, but the biased report would have you believe that it is only Nigerians that were arrested and causing problems”, he added.

While the police and government should be apologising sincerely, they are busy prosecuting the 32 arrested foreigners. According to report, 25 out of those arrested would face charges of assaulting a police officer, which when found guilty would send them to prison for 10 years.

Nigerian government should do more than calling the Polish authorities to probe the case, like in previous similar incidents. Our government usually make statements, after which no further deliberations or actions are taken.

Nigerian government, through its embassy in Warsaw, should follow thoroughly every phase of this particular probe.

Nothing has been heard again on Emmanuel Egisimba’s case. Egisimba died last year in Chinese town of Guangzhou after trying to avoid police brutality. He jumped headlong from a second floor shop and died.

Hundreds of blacks’ after the death of Egisimba protested calling Nigerian government to intervene in the frequent maltreatments and molestations they face in this Asian country.

In another similar case, in 2008, a Nigerian businessman, Ojide Ekene, was said to be descending the steps leading to a subway metro station to look for some place to urinate when the security men accosted him and began to beat him. He was allegedly hit on the head with heavy iron battens, knocking him to the ground in a pool of his own blood.

But the Chinese consulate had said that Ekene fell on the staircase of Yulong building as he tried to run to urinate, adding that in the process he got a heavy hit on his head. Many of such dehumanising cases come up frequently, but Nigerian government usually do little to address them.

The frequent brutalities and xenophobic treatments that Nigerians are made to suffer in Poland, and other racist countries should be properly addressed, and their governments should be held responsible anytime such ill-treatments occur.

Daily Independent
Daily Independent

The bland and indifferent attitude these governments have put up in addressing the frequent and continuous maltreatments of Nigerians in their countries has prompted their police to have a field time in this intolerable act Nigerians are made to pass through.

While these foreign countries hear news of those brutalities Nigerian police melt out to their citizens on daily basis, they tend to see our citizens in their countries as trash that can be maltreated knowing full well Nigerian government would only make noise and cannot bite anytime such ugly trash happens.

Our government usually dream of making Nigeria to belong among the leading 20 economies in the world, one wonders how this tall hallucination and mirage of a dream would come to reality when the same government have little value for her citizens especially those in foreign lands.

Unites States can sacrifice huge resources in order to rescue an American in distress no matter where the challenge is coming from.

Last year, when some Somali pirates hijacked a U.S. ship and held its American captain, Richard Phillips, as hostage the US Navy immediately diverted its guided missile destroyer, Bainbridge, and successfully rescued Phillips alive after keeping watch on the pirates movement for days.

Abike-Dabiri-Erewa
Abike-Dabiri-Erewa: Chair, House Committee on Nigerians in the Diaspora

Poland is among the less-developed countries in Europe. One wonders, supposing our country is well managed by our past governments and leaders, what would Nigerians still be doing in a society that overtly shows they hate them.

I believe they would in drove be returning to their fatherland.

As the popular maxim goes ‘no place is like home’. It is then a task on Nigerians and our government to ensure things work here in order to prevent such beastly treatments our brothers and sisters are made to pass through in unfriendly countries.

While, waiting for that time to come, our government need to show it cares and values her citizens no matter where they are reside.

By Paul Arhewe, Online/Foreign Editor, Daily Independent.