Open Letter To Nigerian High Commission, Ottawa – Self Serving or Serving the citizen?
By Kay Adebogun
I have been asked to write a short statement about the plight of 2 Nigerian Students in Regina, Saskatchewan facing deportation for working few weeks at Wall Mart without a valid work permit. Yes, they made honest mistake but deserve a second chance. One of the girls stopped working when she realized her error. She was not under investigation at that time. Only to be called weeks later and asked if she worked in the past, off course she owned up to her honest mistake and now facing deportation for confessing her past error. Several citizens of Canada including Federal and provincial politicians now hold a strong position that the punishment of deportation does not fit the crime. With the possibility of the rules around students working off campus about to be change in few months, I am left to wonder why the NHC is not advocating for these students. Even churches in Saskatchewan have risen to the defense of these students.
I am forced to ask, What is the Purpose of NHC, Ottawa in Canada? I believe one of the functions of the commission is to represent the interest of Nigerians in Canada at least support or identify with them in crisis time. I am not saying NHC will become all things to all people and condone violation or breaking of any laws of the land. Irrespective of their offence, they are still Nigerians. What is the commission doing about the case of two Nigerian students staying in the basement of a church in Regina? As person directly involve in the case my answer is NOTHING. Are these girls Nigerian citizens? The Answer is yes? Why have they been abandoned, and neglected by their high Commission. Many expect the High Commission to act on behalf of these students but it appears NHC turned out to be judge on this case not given the girls benefit of doubt. They have been accused in the past by NHC of doing things that are false and not verified with the counsel of record. They are legitimate students of U of R and have not made any claim against Nigeria. They have committed no other offence in Canada or Nigeria. They are River states scholarship students who made honest mistake of working with their SIN for employer on and off campus. Are they now designated criminals by the NHC because they worked for 2 weeks at wall Wart? Even if they are (which they are NOT), criminals still get some support from the high Commission. These young and promising Nigerian Students deserve better treatment.
Politicians hardly agree on issues, but the case of these girls is one that has unified politicians of different parties in Saskatchewan. The extensive media coverage is also available for verification. The ruling party (SK party) and the opposition (NDP) are of the opinion that the offense committed by these two young Nigerians students does not warrant deportation. The Provincial government is actively lobbying the federal government to grant them pardon and allow them to complete their studies. The president of the University of Regina is also actively pleading their case even to the office of the Prime Minister of Canada. The Federal Opposition Leader Tom Muclair visited Regina recently to see the girls with his Immigration critic MP (MP Lysane) and committed to pleading the case if these girls. The Leader of the Liberal Party (Justin Trudeau) did same during his visit to Regina this year. Infact, the Speaker of the house of Commons (Andrew Sheers – MP) who is from Regina sympathizes with the plight of these students. These are all Canadians and yet they show great concern about the situation of these two Nigerian Students. Why is NHC judgmental about their case? Why is NHC refusing to know the truth about these girls and choose to believe lies or unfounded story? Why have they been ignored for this long? There is no legal recourse for them. Lobbying is all that is needed to bring about the needed change & resolution.
One is left to wonder what the Nigerian Commission is doing to help them. Emails sent to the Nigerian High Commission were ignored. No contact from the high commission in the past 12 months. Irrespective of the outcome of their case, they are still Nigerian citizens. Personal email sent to the yahoo mail of the Ambassador Ojo Maduake (CFR) on this matter also went un answered.
Is the High Commission, Ottawa serving the interest (at least supporting the interest) of Nigerians in Canada and their own interest?