Port of Spain, TRINIDAD and TOBAGO - At least eight Nigerians are being detained in Trinidad and Tobago over immigration offences and they are now urging visiting President Goodluck Jonathan to intervene.
The eight, who are currently at the Immigration Detention Centre in Aripo, upon hearing of Jonathan’s visit to the country, pleaded for his help to have them deported to Nigeria.
The Nigerian inmates have been held waiting for deportation for years, and no date has been mentioned for their repatriation.
The country’s media, over the years, have reported that the detainees were being ill-treated, which led to their going on hunger strikes, with hope of capturing government’s attention.
When news reached them of Jonathan’s visit to the country on Tuesday, they sent out a desperate plea for help.
One of the Nigerian detainees, known simply as Akeem, said most of them came to TT in search for a better standard of living.
He said some of them are married to Trinidadian women and have children but were yet unable to obtain citizenship.
He said the Nigerian detainees hope that Jonathan will be able to speak on their behalf to the TT Prime Minister, Kamla Persad Bissessar, and TT President, George Maxwell Richards, to have them deported to Nigeria as soon as possible.
There was no immediate comment from the Trinidadian immigration authorities, and an official declined comment when contacted by newsmen.
In 2009, Ghanaian delegates held back bilateral discussions of energy and gas to negotiate the immediate release and deportation of Ghanaians and a majority of African nationals being held, including Nigerians.
Jonathan is in Trinidad and Tobago to attend the country’s Emancipation Celebration, which marks the end of slavery for Africans in the British Caribbean on August 1, 1838.