Information on the treatment of Nigerians who have returned to the country after having made unsuccessful applications for refugee status abroad [NGA28627.E]

The following information was provided to the Research Directorate in a 14 January 1998 telephone interview with a Lagos-based representative of the Ford Foundation for West Africa. The representative said that, in his opinion, failed refugee claimants run a serious risk of being detained and tortured on return to Nigeria. The risk of detention and torture is greater if the person is known to be an opponent of the government. The representative added that the current government is very sensitive about its image abroad, and to make a claim for refugee status could quite likely be interpreted by the government as a "misrepresentation" of the situation in Nigeria, which is "literally a treasonable offence." The representative added, however, that it is unlikely that such people would be brought to trial. They would be more likely to be detained without trial. He added that people have been known to be detained without trial in Nigeria for up to 15 years.

According to a 12 December 1995 article in The Voice, a Nigerian, Abdul Onibiyo, was deported to Nigeria in October 1995 after having applied for refugee status in the United Kingdom. He had been involved with a London-based Nigerian opposition organization, the Nigerian Democracy Movement. In connection with deportation proceedings against Abdul Onibiyo's son, Ade Onibiyo, Abdul Onibiyo's family and their lawyer stated that Abdul Onibiyo had not been heard from since his deportation to Nigeria and his family feared that he "'may be suffering persecution from the military" (ibid., Manchester Guardian Weekly 28 Jan. 1996).

Commenting on the Onibiyo case, the Nigerian High Commission in London stated that Abdul Onibiyo was not being detained by the Nigerian authorities and that the Nigerian authorities had no reason to detain Onibiyo because he was "not a politician and was not known by the Nigerian authorities to be engaged in any political activities or campaigns." The High Commission accused the Onibiyo family of "resort[ing] to the despicable tactic of denigrating the Nigerian government as a means to an end" (West Africa 8-14 Jan. 1996, 6).

Further information on the Onibiyo case could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Ford Foundation, Lagos. 14 January 1998. Telephone interview with a representative.

Manchester Guardian Weekly. 28 January 1996. Vivek Chaudhary. "Court Backs Asylum Refusal." (NEXIS)

The Voice. 12 December 1995. Adeline Iziren. "Don't Tear My Family Apart: Onibiyo Family Two-Generation Deport Nightmare Goes On and On." (Ethnic News Watch/NEXIS)

West Africa [London]. 8-14 January 1996. "Africa This Week: Nigeria: Deportation Furore."

Additional Sources Consulted

Electronic sources: IRB databases, FBIS, Global News Bank, LEXIS/NEXIS, Internet, REFWORLD (UNHCR database), World News Connection (WNC).

Four oral sources contacted did not provide information on the requested subject.