A four-year-old girl, Ugochi Nwosu Christian, who was born on February 12, 2016 in India and her parent, Tochukwu and Olivia Nwosu Christian, are among 40 Nigerians the Mandideep Police Station, Raisen District of the State of Mandya Pradesh filed First Information Respondent and a Look-Out Circular against, documents seen by SaharaReporters have showed.
Look-Out Circular is synonymous with the Interpol Red Alert.
This means none of the accused persons can leave India without being arrested at the airport or any of the country’s borders.
It was gathered that three of the accused individuals have already been arrested at various airports in India and are currently being held in jail without trial.
One of them, Steve Egbo from Edo State, who approached the Delhi Immigration office to get proper documents to visit his family in Nigeria, was sent to a deportation camp in South-West Delhi and later arrested on 6th of April 2019.
Egbo was shackled from New Delhi to Sub-jail in Goharganj Village, a remote area in Raising district in the state of Mandya Pradesh, and has been in detention for 19 months without trial.
Another accused on the list identified as Osahon, also from Edo State, was arrested on March 1, 2020 at Mumbai International Airport en-route Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.
He was sent to Andhery police station in Mumbai before he was shackled from Mumbai to Sub-jail in Goharganj Village where he has been detained without trial.
The third accused currently in custody is one Osamuyimen Gaius Obasogie, who is from Edo State.
He was arrested at Indira Ghandi International Airport in New Delhi en-route Nigeria on 12th October 2020.
He was shackled by a team of policemen from Koh-e-fiza Police Station to Bhopal in the state of Mandya Pradesh.
Obasogie like others is currently being held at central jail in Bhopal without trial.
Documents obtained from Goharganj Magistrate Court indicate that Egbo was denied bail on 12th of October 2019.
No reason was given for not granting him bail as the offence, which they have been accused of, is a bailable offence under the India I.P.C. Code.
His lawyer also petitioned the High Court of Mandya Pradesh twice for bail but his applications were dismissed by the presiding Judge, Justice Akhi Kumar Srivastava.
The reason given for denying the accused bail as stated in the court order says that “Other accused are absconding”.
Osahon, the second accused to be arrested also has his bail application dismissed by Goharganj Magistrate Court and the high court of Mandya Pradesh located in Jabalpur.
Court documents from the High Court of Mandya Pradesh, Jabalpur shows that Justice Ms Anguli Palo said she cannot grant him bail because Egbo had earlier been denied bail by Justice Srivastava.
According to one of the lawyers to the accused, Justice Srivastava who is the main judge in charge of the case stated that until all the forty accused are arrested, the case will not go on trial and none of them will be granted bail.
SaharaReporters gathered that all the accused are victims of a scam orchestrated by a fellow Nigerian simply identified as Stanley and an immigration officer at the immigration office in Bhopal, India and Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan University in Bhopal.
The university is notorious for offering foreign and local students fake admission in exchange for money.
Information available online shows that in 2017 the “The Supreme Court of India cancelled admission of 150 medical students in the Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan University in Bhopal citing poor facilities and ordered a probe into allegations that the private institute used fake patients to get the Medical Council of India's approval”.
Information obtained from some of the accused, who now live in constant fear in India because of the fear of being arrested as their names and passport details have been circulated to local police stations all over India that they are wanted by the Mandya Pradesh Police.
The university it was gathered approached Stanley in 2018 to help them get foreign students from Nigeria for their school.
Stanley approached these Nigerians who were already residing in New Delhi individually that he has connections to help them get admission in a college in Mandya Pradesh.
He also made the victims understand that he will help them get a student visa and a resident permit. Each of his victims made a payment of $1500 which excludes the actual school fees and registration fee of the university.
The $1500 was to cover the expenses of taking their passports to Nigeria and getting a genuine student visa from the India High Commission in Abuja on their passports and also obtaining resident permit in Bhopal that will help them live and school in India legally.
All the victims handed over their Nigeria passports to Stanley and $1500 each.
Mr Christian paid $4500, which was for himself, wife and little two years old Ugochi.
It was further learnt that Stanley took all the passports to a graphic designer in New-Delhi, designed India visas and stick them on the passports of the victims.
All the visas were actually issued by Stanley and not from any embassy.
Documents obtained from the charge-sheet shows that Mr Stanley also issued fake stamps on the passports of the victims.
With his connection at the immigration office in Bhopal and the embattled university, these Nigerians were made to visit the immigration office and were issued valid resident permits.
None of them knew the visas on their passports were fake because they actually got their resident permits from the immigration office by themselves.
“In actual sense, a resident permit cannot be issued on a fake visa. The immigration officer in charge is supposed to detect the fraud immediately. After the bobble bust, Stanley actually confessed to one of us that from the $1500, Rs 50,000/- was for his contact at the immigration office. Rs 50,000/- is around $750 and that Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan University in Bhopal was also aware of this,” one of them said.
After getting their resident permits most of these Nigerians relocated to Bhopal, paid their school fees Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan University and started school.
Documents and receipts obtained from the charge-sheet also showed that tens of thousands of dollars was paid by these Nigerians as school fees and registration fees.
But for the role of the immigration officer, most of these victims wouldn’t have fallen prey to this scam.
A verification document dated 15th November, 2018 which was sent by the High Commission of India in Abuja to the investigating officer Sub-inspector Pooja Patel as obtained from the charge-sheet of one of the accused showed that the visa numbers used by Stanley actually belongs to other individuals.
For example, visa number VJ9605772, which was written on the visa of one of the accused Peter Nkem is a single entry medical attendant visa issued to Khadijah Muhammad on 05/10/2017.
Also, the visa number VJ9605771 is another accused Mr Paul Iyere is an X-single entry visa issued to one Kabuwat Yayock in 2017.
Trouble started for these Nigerians in June 2018 when one of the students was about to travel to Nigeria with the visa and valid resident permit.
The Delhi Immigration discovered the irregularity at the airport and subsequently reported the anomaly to the immigration authority in Bhopal.
Investigation revealed that all the visas of the Nigerians were fake.
A case was registered against twenty six of them at Mandideep police station while Koh-e-fiza Police Station in Bhopal filed a case against 14 others.
They were all slapped with I.P.C. Passport (Entry in India) Act, 1920, The Foreigners Act, 1946//India penal code-420/467/468/471, Code of criminal procedure-439, passport(Entry to India)Act-12(1)A/(12).
Upon the discovery of this scam, the Mandya Pradesh Police immediately deported Stanley to Nigeria.
“The move to deport him to Nigeria was an act to cover up the involvement of the immigration officer in the crime. The immigration officer who was an enabler in this crime was not charged nor was any official from Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan University booked.
“Instead the police made the school to file a case against all the students that they came to seek admission in their institution of higher learning with fake visas. It was not stated in the case that any of the students was issued a resident permit.
“In similar circumstances, there are over one thousand Nigerians scattered all over several jails in India without trial. As we speak, there are over one hundred Nigerians in Delhi deportation camp. Some have spent over two years in Delhi deportation camp.
“These are Nigerians who willingly submitted themselves to the immigration office that they want to go home. Instead, they were sent to Delhi deportation camp. Sometime in June this year, some Nigerians protested in the deportation camp in New Delhi that they should be allowed to go home. “Upon investigation by the jail authority, 12 Nigerians who were deemed to be the leaders of the protest were arrested in November 2020 and sent to Tihar jail, New Delhi.
“Some of them that could afford the services of a lawyer have got advocates to get them out on bail while the majority have not been able to hire advocates. The advocates can only fight for their bail considering the fact that it takes an average of three to four years to finish any case in India. Once they are out on bail, they will be sent to back deportation camp until they finish their case.
“The federal government of Nigeria and the Nigeria embassy in New Delhi should engage the India authority to vacate the Look-Out Circular against four-year old Ugochi Adalia Nwosu Christian and others so that they can come home. Also, the India authority should allow the Nigerians that they have kept in deportation camp to go home,” one of the accused said.