NIGERIAN immigrants have held a demonstration outside their embassy in Harare to protest “mistreatment” by Zimbabwean law enforcement and the immigration department.
Wednesday’s protest comes amid rising tensions between locals and Nigerian immigrants who are accused of fuelling the drug trade, fraudulent activities, ritualistic sex offences, and entering marriages of convenience.
The unnamed official said the embassy was aware of the grievances and was “consulting Abuja for a solution”. Abuja is the administrative capital of Nigeria.
A middle-aged man, who gave his name only as Amada, said: “My brother, this problem is not anywhere else but the immigration department because they don’t treat us well.
“We are being denied visas and we are asked a lot of questions when other people just go about easily.”
He claimed that some Nigerians had their visas revoked after trying to marry Zimbabwean women.
“This is not fair and everyone here is simply saying the embassy should be closed if it cannot protect us. We are tired of this treatment.”
A man said to be the leader of the group claimed he had held talks with Ambassador Adeyanju and informed him of their intention to hold the protest.
“What angers me is that His Excellency (ambassador) consulted me and threatened that he would call the police if we demonstrated, and he actually did it,” the man told the embassy representative, remarking at the police presence.
“If you treat us like humans and brothers, the immigration officer will do the same. If you can’t respect us yourself, then we should not expect anything from outsiders because everything begins here.”
The embassy said it would not be commenting.
The Nigerian anger echoes events in neighbouring South Africa where the government recently stepped up deportations to the West African country, attracting threats of retaliation.
“We wish to humbly apologise to them, and we have,” South Africa’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Ibrahim Ibrahim, told reporters. “We are apologising because we deported a number of people who should not have been deported.”
He accused the South Africans of “inhuman treatment meted out to our own citizens.”
The diplomatic row was sparked by the March 2 deportation of the group who, according to airport health authorities, carried fraudulent yellow fever cards. Since then, authorities in Lagos, raising health concerns, have deported South Africans.
Ibrahim said South African airport authorities did not properly check to determine whether the cards were authentic. He said South Africa was considering reopening a health clinic at the airport to ensure such deportations are not repeated.
South Africa and Nigeria are allies, but also sometimes rivals for influence in Africa.
Nigeria Foreign Minister Olugbenga Ashiru, speaking to his National Assembly, linked the deportations to what he called the “xenophobia” faced by Nigerian immigrants living in South Africa who fear police who arrest them without cause.
Ibrahim rejected Ashiru’s charge.
“We are not a xenophobic country,” Ibrahim said.
Culled from New ZimbabweNo tags for this post.