South African immigration officers sent back the Nigerians for not having valid hotel reservations.
Eight Nigerians were Thursday deported from South Africa over various immigration illegalities.
It is 8 A.M South African time Thursday, at the Johannesburg airport, and the boarding call for Arik Air W3104 was apace. But at Boarding Gate A2 of the airport, a drama ensued when a Nigerian who had just arrived the country was being forced on a return flight to Lagos, Nigeria.
The young man who refused to disclose his identity was refused entry into the country because he had no documented hotel reservation.
Yelling at the immigrations officers, he claimed he used his credit card in making the reservation, and for this reason cannot be refused entry into the country.
Findings by PREMIUM TIMES however revealed that he wasn’t innocent and had indulged in such act before now. This was corroborated by a friend of his who was at the scene and identified himself simply as Okechukwu.
He told PREMIUM TIMES that “he is fond of doing this. When we went to Australia, he used an expired credit card in booking his hotel reservation and it’s the same thing he has done again. It’s quite annoying seeing him arguing, lying and making this embarrassing scene”.
The young man however threatened the immigration officers, insulting them and warning that “the president of my country must hear this. I’ll report you to him”.
Nigerians at the scene retorted that he stopped embarrassing them with his “foolish act”.
Boarding for the flight, which ought to have commenced at 8.35a.m. was delayed as a result of the drama but it finally took off by 9 a.m.
As part of immigration documentation, every visitor to South Africa must make a hotel reservation especially if the information supplied in obtaining the visa indicates the person is not going to stay with a relation and would be living with the person.
If the visitor would be living with a relative or friend during the period of visit, there are certain documentations required as alternative to a hotel reservation. As a result of this, it is a general immigration rule that every airline boarding passengers to South Africa ensure that before boarding, their passengers have hotel reservations.
Commentators on the increasing tense diplomatic relations between South Africa and Nigeria with respect to deportation of Nigerians told PREMIUM TIMES that the blame for this problem lie largely with the airlines, some of whose staff, engage in the shady dealings of ignoring to scrutinise the hotel documentation of passengers because they are in corrupt prior arrangement with such passengers.
A staff of the airline in Lagos reportedly aided the young man and other passengers to travel without complete documents.
In the stern enforcement protocols put in place now by the South Africans, any passenger any Nigerian passenger who arrives South Africa without complete documentation is sent back through the next available flight.
If he is lucky to pass through immigrations without being caught, he stands being arrested if discovered during his stay in the country.
Further information provided by the South African Immigration officers to PREMIUM TIMES as at 9 A.M. indicated that seven other Nigerians alongside the young man were also deported to Nigeria Thursday for similar reasons.