Help! We’re dying in Russian detention centres — Stranded Nigerian sends SOS

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By Akinjide Akintola

These certainly are not the best of times for Nigerians in the Diaspora as they keep on experiencing all forms of inhuman treatment almost worldwide.

Hardly can a week pass without one ugly report of maltreatment or the other of Nigerians overseas. From South Africa to Germany, Saudi Arabia to Malaysia, it’s all manner of degradation or illegal treatment or killing for Nigerians.

The latest, according to a Save Our Soul plea Morning Mail, is in Russia where hundreds of Nigerians are being held in detention centres across the former Soviets Republic.

Morning Mail learnt that one of such is at St Pittersburg in the state of Crafting Sailor.

According to the SOS, they are being held for overstaying in the country after the 2018 World Cup, following the expiration of deadline given them to leave the country which was December 2018.

They are said to be held in a camp at Kinglsepp Highway, D51, Lit BUT, St Pittsburgh in very dehumanizing conditions.

They are kept without food, water, health care and communication with many of them becoming very sick.

One of them who managed to send the SOS through another detainee who is not a Nigerian claimed that he was dying gradually from ulcer due to lack of food.

The Nigerian detainee who gave his name as Olufemi Mayowa Michael, with passport no A07187426 said they were randomly picked on the streets and clamped in detention.

He said they were not allowed to take any of their property and denied access to visitors. He added that this made it difficult for them to meet the demand of the authorities to pay for their deportation out of Russia before they could be released and hauled to the airport to be deported.

He appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to come to their aid before they die unjustly in foreign detention.

President Buhari’s Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa who replied to inquiries on the issue via a text message blamed the Nigerians for overstaying their welcome in a foreign land..

Her reply read: “PMB , through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Aviation, chartered a plane at (a) cost of almost 500,000 dollars to bring back Nigerians who claimed they were duped and issued only a one way ticket to Russia during the World Cup.

“While it was obvious some saw the World Cup an opportunity to elope and when they realized they couldn’t do so in Russia, they raised an alarm.

“However ,on PMBs instruction they were brought back , supervised by our Embassy in Russia.  Andt they were all advised to seize the opportunity and return ”

“It’s unfortunate some of them still decided to elope, thinking they can get away with it.

“However if you have details of the camp , you can forward to our mission in Russia while I follow up with them.”

When told that the Nigerian mission had been unhelpful which was why her office was set up, she said: “That’s not the point. If about 500, 000 dollars had been spent on bringing them home, govt cannot be blamed for those who still decided to elope, knowing the consequences.”

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