The Department of Immigration has cleared the air on allegations of mistreating a Nigerian International named Michael Ernest at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).
In a statement released on Wednesday, January 1, the Immigrations department announced that they had not singled out the Nigerian National as he had alleged in an angry rant on social media.
“Michael was in the company of others on the material day. They were destined for Maputo (Mozambique), and on reaching the JKIA Immigration departure counters, they were asked for onward tickets to their home country or countries of residence,” the statement read.
The Immigration Department intimated that the demands that they made on the group of travelers were standard, and that they let through one of the travelers, who was from Rwanda.
Ernest, however, was asked to show proof of his return ticket, a matter that he found to be discriminatory, unaware that there were no strict restrictions for East African Citizens passing through East African countries.
“The possession of a return/onward ticket is a standard requirement for all passengers either to be allowed entry or departure to a third country where they are not nationals or residents. We wish to state that Michael was not singled out and neither was he called a criminal,” the Immigration Department stated.
Ernest took his frustration to social media on December 27, where he stated that he had been profiled and mishandled by officials at the JKIA.
“I arrived Kenya 21st and today 27th I was to get to Maputo from Nairobi only for immigration officers to stop me insinuating that I could have had a fake ticket like really? [sic],” he posed.
Ernest had also insisted that the officers had told him that Nigerians were suspicious characters without even looking into his history to verify the allegations made.
“I was criminalized without even verifying or even taking a look at my ticket, travel history or anything. All it took was a sight of my green passport. My passport wasn’t even opened by any of the immigration officers,” he lamented.
His sentiments had roused a storm both in the country and in Nigeria with many lamenting and pointing fingers at the immigration department’s alleged discrimination.
“As a Kenyan citizen, I am embarrassed by how you were treated. Irrespective of the rhetoric about Nigerians, everyone deserves to be handled and treated individually based on their character. This happens to all or most Africans traveling out of Africa. Why entertain such at home? Mutichilo Mike wondered.
“This is totally unacceptable. It’s a shame that an African can be treated this way even within the continent. Such cruelty is the reason most people prefer going to the US, Europe or Dubai for vacation and this affects Tourism in Africa. It’s a sad experience and this should end it!” CJ Madiba weighed in.
By JOHN PAUL SIMIYU