Treated like dogs: SOS message tells heart-rending story of ordeal of Nigerians in Greece

Posted by News Express | 10 January 2013 | 5,954 times

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A heart-rending Save Our Souls (SOS) message from a Nigerian writer and activist based in Greece has lifted the lid off the harrowing experience of Nigerians in the European country. In the SOS sent to the Nigerian Ambassador to Greece, Ayodeji Lawrence Ayodele, Athens-based Nnamdi Obodoechi painted a graphic picture of how Nigerians in the country are stripped of their fundamental human rights and treated LIKE DOGS by the Greek authorities and security agents.  

The petition, a copy of which is in the possession of News Express, is dated September 13, 2012 and copied the European Union, The Presidency, Abuja, The Senate and House of Representatives, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nigeria’s Deputy Ambassador, Greece, as well as the Consular Officer.

Entitled “Letter of complaint against Greeks”, the petition reads thus:

“I heartily wish to welcome you to Greece on your diplomatic mission which is synonymous with the representation of Nigeria and Nigerians.

“Being just newly posted here, you may not have grasped what is happening to Nigerians in Greece. Since my sojourn in Greece about eight years ago and far before my coming as I learnt, Nigeria and Nigerians have been subjected to raw humiliation by the Greek Authorities.

“I believe that the embassy is here for the Nigerian citizens. It is also my belief that the well-being of Nigerians is one of the core responsibilities of the embassy; to see that Nigerian citizens are in good condition wherever in the world the Federal Government of Nigeria has its presence. But today in Greece, all is not well with Nigerians. Too many things have gone wrong since my eight -year sojourn in Greece. I have experienced as well as witnessed open and secret abuses of Nigerians by Greek government. I will like a situation where the embassy representing Nigeria and Nigerians can take proper action concerning all these ill-treatments against Nigerians to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and ask the authorities some soul-searching questions concerning the fate of Nigerians because keeping silent connotes acceptance.

“But it is said that he who feels it, knows it and this is why I wish to put forward to you a tip of the iceberg of the experiences of Nigerians. It is heart-breaking and tear-rendering. It is my opinion that something is done and quickly too to stop the affront on Nigeria and assaults on the Nigerians in Greece. Greece needs to be called to order else no Nigerian, in the near future, will have resident permit or any type of Greek documents any more; no Nigerian will have menial jobs – the type even well educated Nigerians who paid exorbitant school fees to Greece here are subjected to; no Nigerian will move freely in the streets of Greece even when no crime is committed. It is no gain-saying that Greek prisons will be filled with Nigerians picked at various bus stops without any reason or any crime committed other than they are Nigerians in Greece.

“The same insult is extended to Alagapon – an office that gives Pink Cards to foreigners for temporary stay. There the Greek Police always renew the documents of all citizens of various countries except those of the Nigerians. The day I experienced this shameful treatment, tears came to my eyes.

“It is the assumption of Greece and the Greeks that foreigners, especially Nigerians and few other black race referred to as Third World People caused the economic woes in their country. For this reason, Nigerians and other aliens now become the targets of assault and even murder.

“The issue I would like to point out is that tens of thousands of Greeks live freely and comfortably in Nigeria without molestation. The reverse is the case here for Nigerians who are hunted like dangerous beasts. Through Government policies, the rights of Nigerians are denied and trampled upon with impunity on daily basis. Nigerians and few black race are singularly seen and treated like lepers and as the only people from a third world country without rights to be respected. It is very painful to know that Nigerians live in misery and abject poverty in Greece (skilled and non-skilled alike) because of denial of their rights. It is also an under statement to say that Nigerians live in hell here. It is extremely difficult and toilsome before we obtain anything in Greece.

“All Nigerians here, after committedly paying innumerable taxes preferentially mapped out for foreigners for their residence permits, the Greek government and those concerned would sit tightly upon the permits till they are about expiring before throwing them out to the applicants like dogs. This means that the process of renewal begins immediately after releasing the almost-expired papers. Those applicants will be given one month to renew them with not less than €2,200 (two thousand, two hundred euros). Those who cannot afford the money will be bereft of any form of identity. This spells serious danger as the police are always on the look out for such people to level all kinds of accusations and charges that may lead to their imprisonment.

“In all the countries of Europe, I do not know where such ill-treatment is meted out to foreigners who pay taxes promptly even without jobs. Tax payers in Greece cannot boast of securing any job. I, for one, came here since 2005 and till date, have not gotten any job even though I pay taxes to the government.

“The Nigerian children born in Greece are constantly denied birth certificates as a proof of country of their birth. Issuance of Greek passports to them is a no-go area. This is a very ugly situation in the 21st century.

“In August 2010, at Polytechnio bus stop, the Greek Police just stopped a bus and picked all the Nigerians in the bus, both those from their private businesses and those going; tagged all of them “drug sellers,” charged them to court and gave them various jail terms of fifteen and sixteen year for no just cause. Now those Nigerians are in various prisons in Greece. The question that readily comes to one’s mind is: “Why only Nigerians?” This is a clear demonstration that Greeks and their government look at Nigerian citizens in Greece with disdain.

“Although the Nigerian Embassy here wielded into the matter without a positive outcome, I would very much like the embassy to fully commit itself mostly to this issue of preferential imprisonment as well as other rights of Nigerian citizens in Greece since the embassy is here to protect its nationals.

“I would like to bring to the knowledge of the embassy that more than three hundred thousands (300,000) Greeks reside in Nigeria, and about 40,000 Greeks were issued with Nigerian residence permits recently in addition to the thousands already with such permits. But I am yet to know or come across a Nigerian that is granted a Greek Nationality. Those who have spent thirty years in this country are not considered for such documents. This is not how the Federal Government of Nigeria treats them. Definitely not! These Greeks are happily living in Nigeria without molestation of any sort while we are here suffering at the hands of Greek authorities and individuals.

“Kindly consider this derogatory notice issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Republic pasted on the board: "As from 30th December, 2011, the Department of Certifications of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Republic will no longer receive for certification documents issued by Pakistani and Nigerian Authorities.” The Ministry clearly stated that certification of these documents can only be made by the consular offices of the Greek Embassies in Islamabad and Abuja respectively.

“It warned: ‘No other certification will be acknowledged by the public authorities of the Hellenic Republic.’

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Republic has already informed the Diplomatic Missions concerned on the above but has there been any reciprocity, if I may ask? Or does our embassy clap for Greece while it slaps Nigeria?

“This is annoying, a let-down on my country and a reason for picking up my pen to write so that the embassy will redress the injustices done to Nigeria and Nigerians; wipe out the wrong impressions about Nigerians or at best, pay the Greeks in Nigeria in the same coin.

“I would like you, sir, to use your good offices to diplomatically settle these problems the humble Nigerian citizens are passing through in Greece.

“The Greeks in Nigeria are doing all kinds of businesses which include bunkering and all other dubious businesses yet our embassy issues them with visas in less than no time to continue messing up our good country.

“Regarding to this visa issue, let there be few Greeks that obtain Nigerian Visas. A lot of Nigerians, including government officials’ are denied Greek visas with impunity. This makes the ordinary Nigerians take the risk of entering Greece through Turkey. This adventure has claimed the lives of many Nigerians. Let the Government of Nigeria adopt the same measure in the treatment of Greeks.

“A commendable and reciprocal example was the deportation of Nigerians by South Africa early this year. The Nigeria Government, in the same manner, bundled some South Africans from Nigeria back to their country.

“For this, I give the Federal Government of Nigeria a credit and truly suggest that nothing other than this type of reciprocity can bring Greek Government to its senses and put a stop to all the insults in the treatment of Nigerians especially for the number of times the Hellenic Republic had deported Nigerians.

“I am not writing to prove that you are inactive, or irresponsible in your work. No! I am only writing to report the ugly situation Nigerians find themselves in Greece while Greeks in Nigeria are enjoying with their stolen wealth from our country.

“It is my hope that the Embassy does not want Nigerians in Greece to fight for themselves when our Embassy is fully established in Greece. This, I am sure, will amount to an undiplomatic solution to a diplomat issue. For this reason, I am convinced that I have taken this matter to the most appropriate quarters for solution.

“Directly or indirectly, the Greeks are telling the Federal Government that it is not worthy to have embassy in their country. Else what is the rationale for this disgusting treatment of Nigerians when there is a diplomatic relation between the two countries. The Greek Policeman will stand and tell ordinary Nigerians that he hates them. There and then, he will start beating and slapping them for no crime committed. These Nigerians are crying bitterly and openly on the streets of Greece and it is a big a slap on the face of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“See the case study of One boy, a Nigerian: his name Sunday and Ugochukwu: the Nazi people in Greece called and tagged “Christy Afgii.” those that does not like the immigrants in Greece stabbed. What is that He is going home one evening, these people called Christy Afgii rushed him at the bus stop, stabbed him. And then one good Samaritan helped to called police, after 50 minutes, the police came, they asked him what was happening, he told them how Christy Alfgii stabbed him, and after 15 minutes, police called an ambulance and they took him to hospital, which he stayed for three week before he was discharged from the hospital. The government of Greece failed to compensate him, or even to investigate the case till now. 

“Could you imagine where the Greek police arrested a Nigeria for Permit and after checking his papers, he now went inside with two other policemen and start brutalizing the boy. They marched on the boy many hours, to the point of coma. Later they removed all his clothes and sink the clothes inside toilet WC, and flushed the water. After that they brings those clothes out and forced the boy to wear the soaked clothes and go home. What a extraordinary treatment? Just because He is a Nigerian!

“This how they Greeks treat the foreigners in Greece mostly the Nigerians.

“Many innocent Nigerians have lost their lives. Many more will lose their lives just as many have been directly killed with their bodies thrown into the sea, in addition to those languishing and dying slowly in various prisons in Greece. This is heart-breaking because these Greeks who kill Nigerians with audacity will not tolerate the loss of any of its nationals in any country.

“I believe that Nigeria is a big country for the Greeks to insult and cheat in many dubious ways and manners without a remorse of conscience.

“It is my humbly suggestion, at this juncture, that the embassy acts fast in reciprocity if Nigerian citizens still have right to life in Greece.

“The above is for your kind and timely reactions to my vital observations.”

•Photo: Writer/activist Nnamdi Obodoechi who blew the lid off the ordeal of Nigerians in Greece.

Source: News Express

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