Over 50 Nigerian students are being wrongly detained in police stations in Cotonou, the Republic of Benin’s commercial capital, their parents claimed yesterday.
They alleged that their children were unlawfully arrested by Béninoise police and kept in inhuman conditions – some since seven days ago – without being told their offences or charged to court.
According to them, 50 others were arrested, tried and jailed without their families’ knowledge.
In a July 9 petition made available to The Nation, the distraught parents sought President Muham-madu Buhari’s intervention through his Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on Diaspora affairs, Hon. Abike Dabiri– Erewa.
Their representative, Mr Femi Akinwande, said the Béninoise police had been picking up any Nigerian student with a white person’s picture, a Google code, or any internet-related item on his phone.
Many of the students, he claimed, were being held at a police station in Gendarmerie Ablangadan, Cotonou.
He listed some of their names as: Matthew Longgapp, Bayo Ridwan Oyenuga, Tari Ibori, Samuel Akinwande, Dunchi Daniel Dennis, Steven Porobunu, Chukwudi Ezeanyom Valentine, Peter Ochani, David Nicholas Esu, Michael Porobunu, Emmanuel Chukwuneke, Tomi Ogunleye and Jacob Oluwatobi
Akinwande, the Managing Director (MD) of FEMAK Markalyn Nigeria Ltd, said his son, Samuel Akinwande, alias Pastor, a 400-level Computer Engineering Student at the Houdegbe Northern American University, Cotonou, was arrested seven days ago, without charge.
According to him, the intervention of Nigeria’s Ambassador to the Republic of Benin had failed to resolve his son, or any other Nigerian student’s plight.
According to Akinwande the arrests which had been going on “for some time” began following the country’s enactment of a law “banning any form of gangsterism, cultism, hooliganism, Yahoo-Yahoo and Badoo activities.
“As a result of this, the Police swung into action arresting both culprits and non-offenders as long as they are Nigerians.
The police, he said, arrested his son during his siesta along with 12 others.
Akinwande said: “He was rudely woken up to be arrested. On getting to the police station, a police officer told me that they had to arrest people irrespective of what they were doing.