34 Nigerians were on Wednesday afternoon deported from the United States of America (USA) for “minor offences”.The deportees comprise 32 males and two females who insisted that they did not commit major offences in the US before being sent back to Nigeria.
They were returned to the country through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, aboard a chartered Omni Air International Boeing 767 aircraft.
The aircraft landed on the 18Right of the runway at exactly 14:35pm.
Speaking exclusively to SaharaReporters on behalf of the others, Mr. Olusegun Olatunji, who claimed to have resided in the US for 30 years, accused the US government of illegally deporting him from the country.
He said the only offence he committed was importing herbs, which the US government claimed was counterfeit, from China into the US.
He declared that he was sanctioned with $41,000 for importing the herbs, which he paid, but to his surprise he was still deported alongside others.
Olatunji added that most of the deportees committed traffic offences or overstayed in the US, among other minor offences, which should not have ordinarily warranted their deportation. He lamented that the US government claimed some of them were drug couriers.
He further expressed sadness that in spite of the fact that some of them challenged their impending deportation and had their cases ongoing, they were still deported like major criminals.
“I have been in the US in the past 30 years. Most of us were deported for overstaying visas and some of us have been in the US for years,” he said.
“Most of us did not commit any felony or major offences; some of us went to jail for minor offences. Even for traffic offence, you are being deported and a few offences. But they now claimed that we were drug dealers, which is not true.
“I would have spent 30 years in the US by October 18. I have been in the US without any infraction. The only infraction I have was that I ordered merchandise from China, herbs, and they claimed the herbs were counterfeit. That was my so-called offence and I was ordered to pay $41,000, which I paid to the government. They still confiscated the merchandise after paying the sum; despite this, they still deported me. I have never committed any infraction in the US apart from importing these herbs from China.
“Most of us here have cases in different courts in the US, but the government did not allow us to see the resolution of the case. They just took us by force and deported us from the US. This is quite unfortunate.”
Other deportees were not unwilling to talk with our correspondent; they also refused being photographed.