Harassment of Nigerians in Kenya to End Soon – Jonathan
Nairobi — President Goodluck Jonathan has assured the Nigerian community in Kenya that he would end the challenges of intimidation, harassment,discrimination and extortion of Nigerians by the Kenyan security operatives.
Jonathan gave the assurance on Thursday night in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, when he held an interactive session with Nigerians living in that country.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting was part of the events lined up for the three-day state visit of the President to Kenya on the invitation of Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta.
The President made the remark as part of his response to several complaints from representatives of the Nigerian community. NAN reports that complaints by the community revolved around illegal deportation and maltreatment of Nigerians by Kenyan authority. Jonathan said that his government was aware of the development and that it was one of the major issues to be addressed during talks during the state visit. “We are aware that there were issues and that is why we are here to see how we can work with the government of Kenya to resolve the issues raised.”
The Minister of Interior, Mr Aba ,Moro, is here because we want to sign a Bilateral Agreement and Memorandum of Understanding on this and other issues between Kenya and Nigeria during talks which the two Presidents will preside over, the president added.. “We have a number of issues and many complaints have come to us. “I remember when my wife was to come here for a programme, there were issues. “Some Nigerians were just sent back home without passing through the normal procedure which almost created a diplomatic row between Nigeria and Kenya.
“But I said that Nigeria will not have to engage in unnecessary diplomatic row with any African country but would rather look at positive ways of managing the situation because we have Nigerians everywhere. “It is better we manage the development to the benefit of the two countries than going into unnecessary diplomatic issues.
“Of course, the President is my good friend and I believe myself and the President of Kenya will be able to solve all the problems,” he said. Jonathan said that his Administration believed strongly in the unity and co-operations among African countries. He said for integration to happen in the continent, people must be able to move freely without hindrances. Contributing, Moro assured the people that one of the agreements to be signed by both Presidents is on “humane treatment of nationals of both countries.
“In every country there must be people who are to enforce the laws of the land, but we expect that as friendly country and based on cordial relations, people must be treated with some level of dignity
“And that is part of the bilateral agreement which we will be able to iron out and sign with the government of Kenya. “We believe that with the signing of the agreement, the constant harassment of Nigerians especially honest Nigerians doing legitimate business in Kenya will no longer occur,” he said. Earlier in his welcome address, the Nigerian High Commissioner to Kenya, Mr Akin Oyateru, had listed the intimidation of Nigerians, among the challenges, faced by the mission.
“Mr President, Kenya is a beautiful and lovely country with a very good climatic condition. Many Nigerians have made here their homes as a result of work and business enterprises,” he said.. We have people in corporate work, those in international organisations, and those engaged in businesses. “Indeed we have two banks here, UBA and Ecobank, the third one GTB is to fully open next year. “The Nigerian community here is peaceful and a vast majority of them are well behaved. “However, Mr President, the community here has a major challenge.
“In recent times there have been problems between the Kenyan law enforcement agencies and members of the Nigerian community on issues of immigration, resident and business permit and in certain cases, unlawful deportation.
“These have caused considerable unease, distress and frustration among members of the community. “There have been several reports of unlawful arrests, intimidation, harassment of Nigerians and the mission has maintained that due process must be observed in dealing with its nationals.”As much as possible, administrative measures should be applied rather than judicial in order to find effective solutions,” he said.
In an address read on behalf of the community, Bishop Paul Nnamdi of International Faith Ministry, said Nigerians were stigmatissed by the Kenyan authority.
“A Nigerian walking or driving is a Police target. “Even when you provide all the documents requested, a rigorous profiling must start until something in their own opinion worthy of some sort of intimidation and terms for settlement is discovered.
“There are issues of illegal deportation, difficulties in obtaining work and business permit and difficulties in coming in and going out via land borders. “Nigerians married to Kenyan do not enjoy the same privileges like their European counterparts who are readily given attention. “Your Excellency, all we are asking is a level playing ground for our people,” he said.
Nnamdi also called on the president to address the challenges faced by the community members in acquiring the new international passport.
He said government should ensure that the machinery and booklets are made available to the High Commission instead of waiting for immigration to come periodically from Nigeria. The session was attended by the First Lady, Dame Patience, Anambra Governor, Peter Obi and Sen. Hope Uzodinma and Business Mogul, Aliko Dangote.
Also in attendance were Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Olugbenga Ashiru, Trade and Investments, Dr Olusegun Aganga, Petroleum Resources Diezani Alison-Madueke, Culture and Tourism, Edem Duke. NAN reports that before the session, Jonathan had been ceremoniously received by President Uhuru Kenyattta at the Kenyan State House. President Jonathan inspected a guard of honour mounted by men of the Kenyan Air Force and received a 21-gun salute by the Kenyan armed forces. The President and his wife also signed the Visitors’ book at the State House which was followed by a tet-a-tet between Jonathan and Kenyatta.