Exposed: Weird Things Nigerians Do Abroad To Avoid Deportation
Many talented and brilliant Nigerians have had their promising future ruined by their desperation to seek greener pastures abroad. Some of them who quit thriving jobs at home end up doing menial jobs abroad with several others becoming fugitives in the long run, GBENGA ADERANTI reports.
Henry was a top insurance broker in Nigeria before he migrated to the United Kingdom (UK) for greener pastures on the crest of Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) visa. As a top flight insurance broker, he had everything going for him—decent accommodation, fairly good car, reward for good performance and opportunity to rise to higher positions in his organisation. But all that, for the young man, was inadequate.
He had read about how well insurance brokers are paid abroad and imagined how his life would change if he travelled out and earn a salary which when converted to naira would turn him into an instant millionaire. To actualise his dream, he quit his job and left for the UK with a promise to people he left behind that he would soon begin to send cars and hard currency to them.
On getting g to the UK, he tried his best to secure a job similar to the one he was doing in Nigeria but he could not get any. He found himself sweating in the cold temperature of the UK as he found himself unfit for the system. In the end, a friend got him a job as a security officer with a small private firm. Unfortunately, the pay was not enough for him to renew his HSMP visa even though it was better than what he earned in Nigeria.
In the end, the Home Office (HO) gave him 72 hours to leave the UK. But rather than comply, he simply changed his residential address and carried on with his job without informing his employer about the change in his staying status.
A friend to Henry said: “The HO Police went to the office of the security company where he worked after a deportation order was issued and a call was made to him to report in the office immediately. But someone in the office tipped him off about the presence of the police, so he managed to escape deportation.
“He was lucky to be off duty at the time the police visited. Otherwise, he would have been arrested and deported after serving a jail term for working without permit. His predicament has since caused him to go underground, looking for menial jobs and begging for charity.”
Yet as far as the young Nigerian was concerned, it was better to remain a wanderer in the UK than return to Nigeria empty handed to be taunted by friends and relations.
Like Henry, Bukky, an experienced nurse in a government owned hospital in Lagos, also quit her job to travel to the UK on the HSMP visa obtained with the help of a relative who qualified in the UK as a medical doctor.
As a nurse, she had read and heard how much her services would be needed and rewarded abroad. Without wasting time, she saved enough money and obtained a working visa. With the HSMP visa conditions, she was tied to four year visa with her employer – at Camberwell.
A friend of hers said: “In order to change her visa to permanent stay without restrictions, she needed to prove to the Home Office that she’s now ‘settled’ in the UK. As a result, she travelled back to Nigeria to arrange a marriage with an old boyfriend. All the expenses were borne by her.
“She subsequently obtained a visa for the ‘hubby’ and both of them travel to the UK, but the man could not get a job immediately. At a point the man became bored and started having affairs all over the place, flirting and visiting so many dating sites.
“Of course, their marriage crumbled, only for Bukky to realise that the husband actually had another wife and a child in Nigeria to whom he had been sending money to regularly from Bukky’s bank account.
“Bukky literally went ‘mental’. She lost her pregnancy and has not been herself since. She’s now recovering in a psychiatric home while the whereabouts of the husband is unknown.
“The only good thing is that the Home Office has allowed her to stay in the UK permanently without any restrictions, and she is now waiting to become a full UK citizen. Will she ever go back to Nigeria? I doubt that very much. Not for another husband anyway.”
Bukky’s friend also shared the story of two Nigerian ladies who travelled to the UK on six-month tourist visas that could not be renewed.
She said: “Many Nigerians allow their tourist visas to expire without leaving the UK. And knowing that without their old passport the Nigerian Embassy in the UK, by law, cannot issue them ETC (emergency travelling certificate), they burn their passports and clone the identities of legal UK residents that they know. As things stand, many of them may not be able to visit their home country again.
“But the most tragic thing is that many of them are suffering and are at the mercy of other Nigerians in the Diaspora who have turned them into slaves of sorts. This is the story many Nigerians abroad would not tell their family members at home. To compound their problems, some embassies and high commission offices are not making things easy.”
In a viral video, the Nigerian High Commission in Atlanta Georgia, United States, was fingered as one of the places the issue of documentation and passport renewal are made difficult.
In the video, a Nigerian who was frustrated about the hurdles placed in the ways of Nigerians who want to renew their passports described the situation at the high commission as “chaotic”.
According to the man that speaks in the background of the video, the staff at the Nigerian High Commission, aside from collecting the passport application fee, would make Nigerians pay another 130 dollars.
“Nigerians have to stay in the sun outside the embassy disorganised dishevel, leave their homes, travel by flight and sleep in hotels. (They) spend about 1,500 dollars for this trip just because they want to renew their passports,” he said.
In comparison, he said, the citizens of a country like the Republic of Benin do not have to travel but only mail their passports.
“We must stop this. It is a fraud. Defrauding Nigerians in the name of ‘there is no money’ to run the embassy. Where has Nigeria’s money gone to? What happened to the budget?” he queried.
For many Nigerians who are living abroad illegally, returning home to settle down or visit family members could be a pipe dream. According to an immigration lawyer, the problem with most immigrants, especially those with multiple entry visas, starts when they want to work in the UK.
According to him, the visa confers on them the status of visitors who are not allowed to work. “Most Nigerian immigrants adopt other people’s names and use the documents of genuine citizens who are allowed to work. In most cases, when such a visitor is caught, the penalty is always grave. Unfortunately, most Nigerians who come as visitors always have it at the back of their minds to work in the UK.”
According to him, it is a bit better for those with multiple visas. But it is also a big risk. Most of them would come in, work and use the proceeds of their work to buy goods. He said what they normally do is to extend the visa for two or three years and they would start working.
“After a while, they go to the home office and change their status from being a visitor to that of a trader or a business person. But it is a big risk, because in the process of trying to gather money, nothing must go wrong. For those of them that managed to escape immigration, it is always neither here nor there because they would not want to come back to Nigeria because of the fear of being caught by the immigration at the airport.”
A Nigerian with dual citizenship who lives in the United Kingdom told The Nation that some Nigerians who are stranded in the country are sometimes assisted by people like him. But he said it could spell a disaster if they are caught.
He said: “If stranded Nigerians want to go out of the country (UK), what they normally do is to look for someone with both the Nigerian and the United Kingdom passports. The one with the UK and the Nigerian citizenship will buy the ticket in his own name, pretending that he is travelling to Nigeria, check in, collect the boarding pass or even travel together.