Between January 2011 – January 2012, there were 11 mass deportation charter flights from Britain to Nigeria.
- 492 Nigerian nationals were returned on these flights.
- The UK Border Agency continues to code-name these deportations to Nigeria ‘Operation Majestic’.
- These mass expulsions of Nigerians from the UK are taking place every 6 weeks.
6 Nigerians have died during deportations from Europe since 1991 – the highest number of fatalities from any one nationality. (In 2010, Nigerian man Joseph Ndukadu Chiakwa died on a deportation flight from Switzerland)
During previous deportations angry scenes have erupted outside the Nigerian High Commission in London. In December 2011, the High Commissioner was ambushed by No Borders activists who called on him to stop collaborating with UKBA. Nigerian Immigration staff have been issuing emergency travel documents that the UKBA need to remove people. The fee charged for this service is unknown.
UKBA have so far refused to disclose their level of collaboration with the Nigerian Immigration Service. The Border Agency claim that: “Disclosing this information would have a clear effect on UKBA’s ability to carry out removals to Nigeria and would directly prejudice the operation of immigration controls”. An investigation in Germany last year found that the Nigerian Embassy staff were paid €500 by the German authorities for every asylum-seeker they helped to deport… The level of secrecy between the British and Nigerian Immigration authorities suggests a similar scam is operative in the UK.
Life in Nigeria
Up to date reports on the human security situation in Nigeria can be found here
Many Nigerian asylum-seekers have been victim to cult and gang violence, torture, rape, female genital mutilation, armed conflict and state oppression. Yet, as one of the ‘white list’ countries set out in the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, Nigerian asylum applications are almost automatically dismissed by the Home Office regardless of their merits or supporting evidence.
Cases certified as ‘manifestly unfounded’ under the Fast Track system are often not examined properly and claimants do not have the right to in-country appeal against the Home Office decision. With charter flights, claimants’ rights are further restricted by lack of time and adequate legal representation to seek judicial review.
But while state and ‘inter-communal’ violence in Nigeria are well documented, what is less known, or less talked about, is the role of multinational oil and arms companies in maintaining this violence.
Both Shell and Exxon Mobil are known to have dealt with Nigerian armed groups to secure their interests in the oil-rich Niger Delta. In the name of ‘oil security’, horrendous crimes have been much beyond that. By providing those groups with money and weapons in return for oil and profits, these companies are complicit in the atrocities committed by them; atrocities that have driven, and continue to drive, many to flee the country fearing for their life and safety. The result is some of the most sophisticated and powerful criminal rackets and organised crime networks in the world, which can reach their targets even in European countries, let alone inside Nigeria or in neighbouring countries.
Nigeria’s oil and natural gas revenues are estimated at over $40 billion a year. Yet, the majority of the population live in extreme poverty, while western colonial powers continue to plunder their resources, then reject those who try to escape these miserable conditions as ‘economic migrants’.
Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, with an estimated 135 million people. Nigerian women are particularly vulnerable since domestic violence, however extreme, is not sufficient grounds for international protection as defined by the Geneva Convention. Nigeria is also well known for human trafficking, mainly through Italy, for the purpose of sex work or domestic slavery. Other common Nigerian cases include forced marriage, female genital mutilation, cult and gang violence, violence associated with religious conversion and Shari’ainspired penalties for adultery. [Taken from a flyer produced by South Wales No Borders http://www.indymedia.org.uk/media/2010/02//445594.pdf ]
Here is an article about headline news in Nigeria from January to March 2012 [Source: Freedom Press]
Beginning on the 9th January, for several days Nigeria was rocked by countrywide industrial strikes and popular protests against the doubling of petrol prices as a result of the government withdrawing oil subsidies. The removal of subsidies forms part of wider neoliberal ‘reforms’ to the oil sector.
The strikes organized by Nigeria’s largest unions, Nigeria Labour Organization (NLC) and Trade Union of Nigeria (TUC), have been joined by the national bar and medical associations. Reportedly, tens of thousands took to the streets; pop icons and artists, including the famous littérateur Chinua Achebe, expressed their dissent online and on the streets as they addressed rallies. Nigerian residents in London staged their own demonstration in front of the Nigerian embassy.
Along with the immediate concern about fuel prices, long-standing resentments against a corrupt and entrenched ruling class have risen to the surface. Reports say that for the first time in Nigeria’s post-colonial history Muslims and Christians are united in their struggle against the government. However, the protests are occurring amidst a resurgence of communal violence between Muslims dominant in the north and Christians dominant in the south. Fundamentalists have killed at least twenty, while three people have died in clashes with the police during the protests.
Rattled by the scale of public opposition, the government has reduced petrol prices to the Nigerian equivalent of £1.78 from the hiked up £2.27, while the public demand is to return to the earlier price of £1.10. The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) have threatened to shut down production across the nation, although they haven’t yet acted on it.
The government is rattled for a good reason – according to official statistics, the strikes have caused a financial loss of nearly £780 million.
At the same time, Nigeria has been subjected to its worst oil spill in more than a decade. In late December last year around 40,000 barrels spilled off the coast of the Delta region in the south of the country, caused by a Royal Dutch Shell facility. The slick has caused great pollution and adversely affected local fishers. After lame denials the company finally accepted responsibility. Activists are demanding around £16billion in compensation.
This is a familiar situation: Shell has failed to pay compensation packages, after agreeing to do so, for previous oil spills. Nigerian landscape and coastal regions are so devastated by oil spillages that a recent UN report calculates that it will take at least 30 years to clean up.
In this country, still suffering from the consequences of its colonial history, oil is a major source of survival. According to one report, Nigeria is the 10th biggest oil producer, extracting over two million barrels of oil – and trading nearly £130 million of it – each day. It is Africa’s biggest oil industry, and has spawned a low-magnitude war within for its precious ‘black gold’.