Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti
A group known as the Concerned Citizens Rights (CCR) has written to the Federal Government lodging complaints about the alleged detention of 35 Nigerians in Ghana.
The group, in a letter signed by its National President, Dr Olusegun Adeola, addressed to the Chairman, Nigeria in Diaspora Commission (NiDCM), Hon Abike Dabiri, on June 26, and copied to Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama and Ghana High Commission and Consulate-General in Nigeria, said the Nigerians were languishing in the border town of Aflao in Ghana located between the country and Togo Republic.
In a copy of the letter made available to newsmen in Ado-Ekiti on Saturday, the group was stunned at the level of maltreatment being allegedly meted to the victims along the Ghana-Togo border, where many citizens are currently languishing in detention with no hope of being released, the group alleges.
The body pleaded with NiDCM and the Ghana High Commission and the Consulate-General in Abuja and Lagos to use their influence to intervene and secure the immediate release of these Nigerians.
The letter reads:
‘Available information corroborated the fact that about 35 Nigerians are currently detained some, for more than 45 days in unsanitary conditions in the arrival hall and other locations, which can better be described as ‘concentration camps.’ They sleep on bare concrete floor without food, and with just one toilet for all genders.
‘To make matter worse, both men and women are cramped in one camp, sleeping together in flagrant violation of the detention code and convention. It was reliably informed that huge sums of money are also seized from traders among them by the immigration officers under the facade of ‘save keeping’.
‘While being held incommunicado, they were made to pay 300 cedis each under duress to the immigration officers. Their phones and ECOWAS Passports were seized and without the opportunity of reaching out to members of their family since they left home, who may not even know their whereabouts, situations and circumstances currently.
‘During investigation, we gathered that when some frustrated ones among the detainees complained after more than 30 days in detention, they were beaten, tortured and told, “you will die here.” They were told their offence was entering Ghana illegally, even when there was unfettered movement across borders as contained in the ECOWAS charter that bonded member states.
‘These are people who have always seen Ghana as a sister country to Nigeria and Nigerians and who have previously been coming in and out of Ghana on business trips, believing they are covered under the ECOWAS Protocol Agreements.’
The CCR said that no matter the magnitude of the offences or crimes committed, that it was wrong for those Nigerians to be so treated in such inhumane conditions.
The CCR added: ‘They daily buy their own foods and some are running out of money. Their treatment has nothing to do with COVID-19 because they have been tested and found negative for weeks and still kept together without social distancing and even face masks. There, men immigration officers escort women to private bathrooms, where the ‘prisoners’ pay for such services.
‘Our concern is that the victims are gradually sliding into depression in their frustrated conditions and except prompt action is taken, suicide behaviours may follow. What they are facing now is surely beyond the expectations as travellers within the same sub-region.
‘They crossed two Franco-Phone countries without horror and only to be so treated in their sister English speaking country. We are sure that the Ghanaian Government and the Immigration authorities would not have approved this type of inhuman treatments knowing Ghanaian democratic, Human Rights and Rule of Law values as examples in Africa and ECOWAS.’
The CCR said it decided to write to blow the lid open so that investigations and appropriate actions will be taken, knowing the integrity and transparency of the Ghanaian authorities, so that the good name and image of the country can be protected in Africa and globally.