- 24 in one year, 6 countries
From murder to executions, many Nigerians have been killed around the world in the past one year. Daily Trust Saturday takes a look at the disturbing trend.
The recent deaths of two Nigerians in foreign lands have again triggered concerns in circumstances that might be xenophobic. In South Africa, Mrs. Elizabeth Ndubuisi-Chukwu, the deputy director-general of the Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria (CIIN) was found dead in her hotel room, while in Malaysia a PhD student, Thomas Orhionsefe Ewansiha, died in detention.
Mrs. Ndubuisi-Chukwu died on June 13, 2019 at the Emperor Palace Hotel, Johannesburg, while attending a conference, and an autopsy released by the Director-General of South Africa’s Department of Health said she died of “unnatural causes consistent with strangulation.” In Malaysia, Thomas, the 34-year-old student of Limkokwing University of Creative Technology was arrested around Desa Aman Puri of Damansara on July 4, 2019 and died five days later in custody.
Mrs. Ndubuisi-Chukwu’s death again brought to the fore incidents of some years ago, when many Africans, especially Nigerians, were attacked and their homes and businesses torched.
In a reaction to the latest incident, Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, summoned the South African acting High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Bobby Moroe, and expressed concern that in recent past, 118 Nigerians were killed in unprovoked attacks, with 13 by South African police. He said Nigeria would no longer ignore such killings, and called on South African authorities to protect Nigerians.
Also, Chairman/Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Nigerians in Diaspora Commission and Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, has come out to repeatedly decry the rate at which Nigerians are being killed abroad, for a myriad of reasons.
Just on Tuesday, she paid a visit to the South African High Commission in Abuja with the brother of the late Mrs. Ndubuisi-Chukwu, Dr. Chidu Ndubuisi, to discuss with Mr. Moroe on thoroughly investigating the reasons surrounding her death and preventing the Nigeria/South Africa relationship from spiraling downwards.
Mr. Moroe then revealed that the case had been upgraded to a high-level priority case, and his country will not allow anything to compromise the bilateral relations both nations enjoy.
In the case of Thomas, the Director-General of the Malaysian Immigration Department, Datuk Khairul Daud, Ewanisha, claimed that he had a seizure while sleeping, after which he given special medical treatment before an ambulance arrived and was later pronounced dead.
But a statement issued by the Nigerian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur stated that they had engaged the Malaysian immigration authorities on the death of the Nigerian and are awaiting the autopsy report. “Necessary steps are being taken towards with a view for redress and to prevent such occurrence in the future,” the commission added.
Dabiri-Erewa also expressed her profound sadness over the passing of Thomas and urged the Nigerian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur, to open an investigation.
However, Thomas’ wife, Blessing, in a statement claimed that her husband was murdered in custody: “After my husband’s death, he was taken to a hospital where they carried out an autopsy. Both sides of his neck were cut down to his chest and lower abdomen. They tore the upper and lower parts of his body without our consent…It is suspicious and that is why we want to perform a fresh autopsy on him.”
Also generating concern, is the murder of a lecturer in Kyrgyzstan, Aliyu Tijanni Abubakar, by a racist individual. It was learnt that there is no Nigerian mission in Kyrgyzstan, but the foreign ministry had reached out the embassy in Iran, with the case currently being handled by the officials there.
The figures are alarming: Between December 2018 to date, 23 Nigerians were killed in five countries in questionable circumstances: Nwankwo Ilechukwu Mishak was stabbed in Ghana in December, 2018; Aliyu Tijanni Abubakar in Kyrgystan on July 2, 2019; nine Nigerians killed in a Libyan camp air strike this month; Ozumba Tochukwu Lawrence, shot in South Africa in July 2018; So also Okechukwu Chukwumeze on August 25, 2018 and Mr. Olushola Ayanleye on August 26, 2018. On April 6, 2019, Bonny Iwuola was stabbed in South Africa, and Gozien Christian also stabbed in South Africa in April; Tony Elochukwu, shot on April 24, 2019 in South Africa, while Samuel Nkennaya was mobbed on April 27, 2019. Ebuka Udugbo, killed by South African Police on April 28, 2019, the same with Maxwell Okoye on June 4, 2019.
As the latest reports come in, more Nigerians at home are increasingly alarmed, even with the efforts of the Foreign Ministry. “President Muhammadu Buhari has instructed that the life of every Nigerian matters and is to be protected. We know that personally, you’ve done so much in this regard, communicating with our commission in South Africa. But on behalf of the government and the people of Nigeria, the family of the deceased, and for the sake of both countries, we demand justice,” Dabiri-Erewa had said to the South African High Commissioner. Whether that justice will be served, remains to be seen.
– Data compiled by Haruna Ibrahim