A Nigerian activist living in New Delhi, Africa Obeges, has alleged various forms of inhumane treatment on Africans, most especially Nigerians living in India by the Indian police and civilians.
In a video shared on Facebook by Africans In Diaspora, Obeges told Chizoba Okwor, the host, explained that Nigerians make up the highest number of Africans in the South-Asian country.
He alleged that Indian hospitals used Nigerians as ‘Guinea pigs’ for a trial and error COVID-19 vaccine which resulted in the death of lots of Nigerian citizens in India.
According to Obeges, the development made Nigerians in India to conclude not to visit the hospital when sick anymore but rather purchase drugs from a drug store and browse the name of each drug to know its purpose.
He also said Nigerians cannot purchase a property of their own but do so with the names of citizens who keep extorting money from them by claiming ownership of the piece of the property later on.
Obeges said he is sure the Indian government has no idea such maltreatment was being meted out on foreigners by the citizens due to a lack of low awareness on the matter.
He also spoke about how a 43-year-old Nigerian, Leohand Lyeanyi, died at DDU hospital after a cop allegedly assaulted him.
An eyewitness had earlier told SaharaReporters that Lyeanyi died because of a Lathi injury inflicted on him by Sime police personnel.
Commonly used in South Asia, Lathi is a long, heavy iron-bound bamboo stick used as a weapon, especially by the police.
The development had sparked violent protest in west Delhi’s Tilak Nagar by his compatriots and Police retaliated by arresting and assaulting Nigerians.
Commenting on the development, Obeges said the Nigerian High Commission in India had allegedly asked the Indian police to scare the protesters ‘mildly’ which had resulted in broken legs, injured heads among others.
According to him, some of the protesters who were taken to prison were charged Rs50, 000 each which is about N315, 000 in the local currency.
He urged Nigerians in their home country to organise peaceful protests at the Indian embassy and in estates occupied by Indians in Nigeria, creating awareness on the issues at stake with a view to resolving them.
He said, “I wouldn’t say it’s a Nigerian problem, it’s an African problem. We are suffering it. In India we have, Nigerians, Tanzanians, Kenyans, Ugandans, we are all there, Togolese, Congolese but 80% of Africans there are Nigerians, so most of the things that happen to Africans over there, happen to Nigerians mostly. If you check, we have the Edo, Yorubas, Itsekiri, Urhobo, Ijaws and the Igbos in India but 50% of the Nigerians there are Igbos, most of the things that happen, happens to the Igbos.
“On April 1, a brother was murdered by Indian police trying to extort money from him and this is what they do to us. They arrest us and ask us for N1 million or N2 million, then they let us go. Sometimes, we don’t have that money and while trying to explain to them, it becomes something else, that was what happened in the case of that brother and according to report, the police used the baton to hit the back of that brother, he collapsed and that is the end.
“Every week they kill somebody, that was what brought Nigerians out to protest that, okay if you know you are not the one who killed this brother, give us the CCTV footage but the police insisted that they couldn’t give it that we should calm down, we should go back home and we know if we do, nothing will happen, they wanted to bury that evidence but we said we wanted the CCTV footage, that was what we asked for and they refused to give us.
“It resulted in violence, the Indians that were around started throwing stones at us, then the police started using the baton on us. Some of us ran away, some got injured, some broke legs, some people’s heads were injured then they took some to prison. I also heard a report that the Nigeria High Commission gave an order to the police that they should do something to scare the Nigerians away.
“I heard this from people, not just one or two persons. The Nigerian High Commission told the Indian Police to do something that will scare us, not really to harm us but something that will make us run inside because the number of people that came out was much. They used their baton on us, that was what happened so they took some of us to the hospital, more than 50 of us to jail, then we went to court so we can settle the issue so they will bring those our sisters out, they granted them bail 50, 000 rupees bail and that is about N315, 000.
“This happens in all parts of India, in Mukhtar, Mumbai, Delhi. This incident happened in New Delhi.
“There was something like that that happened in 2013, that time Goodluck Jonathan was the president and he made it clear that if Indians were going to continue to treat Indians like this, he wanted them to be aware that there were just less than 50, 000 Nigerians in India and there were over 4 million Indians in Nigeria and if Indians were not ready to give justice and respect the rights of Nigerians there, he was going to deport all Indians back to India so that was what brought peace since 2013 and in 2018, things like this continued again.
“The Indian Government is not saying anything about it and I don’t think this sort of thing has gotten to the Indian government, the right authority, it has not, because we have not created such awareness that will draw the attention of the Indian government because no government will support such maltreatment of foreigners because they know what it will cause, what it can bring to them.”
He also alleged that an organisation, AINSCA (All India Nigerian Students and Community Association), though set up by Nigerians, has continually extorted money from Nigerians while posing as the people’s saviour.
“There is an organisation in India that was formed by some group of persons and they are using the organization to exploit Nigerians because they have back up from the Nigerian embassy. It is called AINSCA (All India Nigerian Students and Community Association).
“They have been posing as our helpers, as our government, they approached the police that they want to settle the issue that we should be granted bail. So, the police granted us 25,000 rupees bail and another 25,000 rupees for surety. That’s 50, 000 rupees (N315, 000). More than 40 persons were arrested and most of them are women (Nigerian women), we came out to demand justice, that was our crime. They arrested us and still collected N315, 000 each, that’s the height of injustice we are facing here.”
Obeges recounted his own dose of police brutality but said he had always escaped due to his confidence.
“I have a whole lot of experiences with the police. There was a time I went to the mall, I was already coming out, so I saw the police holding some Nigerians, some of the Nigerians they were holding just came out of KFC eating a burger, the police said their crime was that they were not putting on face masks and I don’t think there’s any way someone will put on face mask in KFC eating a burger but these Nigerians were shy, they couldn’t speak out, so they were about 11 of them following the police, the police said they were going to pay 2, 000 rupees and will take them to the police station.
“And if police arrest anyone on the issue of a nose mask and takes them to the station, by the time they get to the station, it becomes an issue of where is your paper because they know most of the Nigerians there don’t have papers, then they will increase the money to N2 million, N1.5 million. It was when I got there I asked the police why they had to arrest the Nigerians alone, that they should arrest the Indians who were not putting on nose mask, so we settled it. At that time, I didn’t have my papers so they asked me where are my papers, I said which papers, do they know who I am?
“There was another time I was coming from a party, I was in this cab and those cabs, police is not supposed to stop them but because they know they are carrying African, they will stop for the police so the African can be extorted. When the can driver stopped, a police officer that was not using a nose mask asked me why I’m not using one, trying to extort me that I should bring 500 rupees, I became hot with him. I told the cab driver I will report him to the police, he had to beg me.
“I have videos of these experiences. I’m encouraging Nigerians in India to challenge them and make videos. Let Nigerians at home see these things and understand our struggle. So, when they see these Indians in Nigeria, they won’t give them that respect. Before now, if I see any Nigerian in Nigeria trying to harass an Indian, I will support the Indian because that’s our mentality, we respect foreigners without knowing their intentions, we respect and protect them but in their country, they don’t respect and protect us, we don’t have the freedom that they have here. We don’t have peace, freedom and justice in their land. A person might go out and not come back.
“When Indians, Chinese, Japanese come to Nigeria, they buy car, land own companies but we Nigerians there, we don’t own anything. You can’t own any building, you cannot buy property, you can’t buy land, you can’t buy a bike. If you want to buy a bike, you will give money to Indians, they will use their names to buy it. That’s a source of income for some of them, especially the jobless ones, they take it as their duty. An Indian man will buy a bike for you and Tomorrow, he will claim it because it is bought in his name and he will take it from you. Whenever he is hungry, he will take the car again and you pay him.
“You can’t rent a house in India peacefully. Your landlord might see that you have a nice AC and ask you to move out. You will be afraid because he might call the police and they will take you to jail. I don’t want Nigerians to be afraid because the more they do, the police will keep extorting them.
“This young man from Edo was coming back from church, Indians attacked him, beat him to death. It’s not new to us, we Nigerians now see it as a normal thing, we are becoming used to seeing our brothers being killed by Indian police.
“We had to start advising ourselves not to go to their hospital during the pandemic. Those of us who went to the hospital during that time, don’t come back alive. We don’t go to the hospital, if you go there for leg pain, that’s the end, if you go there for tooth pain, that’s the end, so many of us die, we don’t go to the hospital, if you are sick, go to chemist, don’t let them give you an injection.
“Buy drugs and when you get home, google the use of those drugs before taking it. They wanted to use us for experiment for their vaccine. Many of us died during that pandemic, we had to advise ourselves to stop going to the hospital.
“That’s our struggle, our daily experiences. The Indians that we welcome over here, when you walk past them in their country, they cover their nose like we’re smelling. When you see them in the metro, they won’t come near, they will be laughing at you and make you know they are mocking you.
“It’s only if we start treating them the way they are treating us. That is the only time they will respect us. We have very little at stake because they own companies in Nigeria while we don’t. When we start threatening them, they will be forced to tell their government to protect Nigerians over there, then we will be protected.
“You cannot communicate with a man until you learn his language. I advise Nigerians in India to support Nigerians in Nigeria who are willing to go to take the battle, go to the Indian embassy, homes those estates and warn them, not violently but to protest and let them know we are not so blind to the experiences of Nigerians in India.”