BY CHUKS EZE
Nigerian Kenyan-based businessman, Anthony Chinedu Ifedigbo was recently deported to Nigeria via a chattered aircraft under controversial circumstances. He had lived in Kenya for about 18 years with a flouring business, including a four-star hotel with 40 suites, as well as five lovely children.
In this interview, the Anambra State indigene claims the aircraft used to deport him and other two Nigerians had been grounded at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, and calls on the Nigerian authorities to intervene as many Nigerians are still being unjustly detained in that country. He also alleges that the issue of his deportation was orchestrated by his estranged Kenyan wife, Joyce, in connivance with a popular Kenyan politician, Rapheal Wanjala, with the sole aim of grabbing his property worth millions of dollars. Excerptsâ€¦
Why were you deported from Kenya?
The issue about my wrongful deportation started some years ago when I had a misunderstanding with my ex-wife and later separated. It was over infidelity on the part of my wife. She was having extra-marital affair with a popular Kenyan politician at my back. And when I found out, I divorced her, after which she connived with the man and started fighting over my property that is worth over $5 million. So, in 2008, they wanted to deport me through illegal means, but the Nigerian Ambassador to Kenya at that time, Ambassador Nwigwe, intervened and stopped them. He countered whatever gimmick they introduced to deport me. Since then, they have been putting me and many other Nigerians through series of traumatic experiences. It has really been hellish for Nigerians in that country since the current Kenyan President came to power. They even accused us of supporting ODM Lila Odinga. But that is very untrue, because we never participated in Kenyan politics directly or indirectly. We did not sponsor any candidate. We only engaged in genuine business, investing in their economy and even providing jobs for their citizens.
How did they carry out the operation?
They burst into my house, armed to the teeth and said they were policemen. They numbered about 25 fierce-looking men. That is how they usually harass Nigerians. They would ransack your house without your supervision and by the time they leave your house every valuable is gone. They picked me up early morning on Sunday, May 26, 2013, as I set out for the gym, and that was the last time I saw my family. They detained me till Monday when they finally deported me via a chattered flight. They seized my three iphones, those of my wife and my friends that were in my house. They then took us to an isolated place and kept me incommunicado without food, bathing water and ventilation. I saw hell, my brother. In fact, they treated me like an animal, just as they also did to other Nigerians, and made it difficult for the Nigerian Embassy officials to know where we were. They would not contact the Nigerian Embassy before bundling her citizens into the plane back to Nigeria. I think it is disappointing the way these African countries insult our great country. But I commend the decision of the Nigerian authority to ground that controversial chattered aircraft. That plane would be enough to pay for my property. I can even forget about pressing for other damages because I donâ€™t even want to go back to that country. A sensible people should be wooing honest and successful legitimate investors into their country, but the Kenyans are chasing away those helping in developing their country. All I want is my money. And like I said, the grounded plane can pay my money. I therefore, use this medium to ask the Nigerian government to investigate and confirm that I have been doing legitimate business in Kenya over the years and that I am worth the property I am claiming. I need our governmentâ€™s assistance just as all Nigerians resident in Kenya at this moment. The Nigerian High Commission in that country does not know the details of what is happening because of the way they carry out the operation.
How did your deportation relate to the misunderstanding between your wife and you?
Like I said earlier, she was involved in a secret relationship with that politician, who was using government machineries to intimidate, deport me and take over my property and other investments. That was why they chattered a flight of not less than N15 million to deport an individual.
How many other Nigerians have been deported apart from you?
Over 20 Nigerians have been deported, and as I am talking to you, more are still awaiting deportation in their detention camps. These are people that own huge properties and strong asset base running into millions of dollars in that country. And the plan of the Kenyan elite is to take over everything. You can verify all I am telling you. One Peter Atuenyi, who was deported alongside five others yesterday (June 6), is worth millions of dollars in Kenya. These are people that started from the scratch and God blessed our efforts. Peter is well-known both in Nigeria and Kenya yet, like me, they bundled him out of that country like a terrorist.
What charge were pressed against you people?
Usually, they would brand you a drug trafficker. That is their major weapon because, once an individual is branded a drug peddler, some people would easily write the person off without even giving him a chance to explain or defend himself. But drug dealers are not even deported; they are tried in that country and jailed. And I have it on good authority that unless you can prove that somebody is a security threat to your country, you donâ€™t deport people carelessly like that.
Is it true that Kenyan women married to Nigerians in that country usually hatch such deportation plots in order to corner their husbandâ€™s property?
That their women find your property attractive should not warrant them to brand you a drug dealer. No. It is an insult for a country like Kenya to start attacking citizens of a big brother country like Nigeria in that manner. Both the Nigerian government and people must rise to defend our citizens.
You said you witnessed those deported on Thursday
I was there at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, yesterday to receive another batch of 10 Nigerians who did not commit any crime in that country. And the impounded jet, which they chattered to deport me, was still there. I didnâ€™t need anybody to bring me home with a private jet because my property there can chatter over 20 private jets to convey our people with their families home. I have five kids there who are all Kenyan citizens. And apart from that, by virtue of my living in that country legitimately for almost 20 years and contributing immensely to her economy, I am qualified to be treated as a bona fide Kenyan citizen.
Are you saying that your case is traceable to your estranged wifeâ€™s connivance with the Kenyan ex-politician?
Yes. Her name is Joyce Akini-Ochen. We got married in 1999, but it was in 2007 that I found out she had been having affair with the ex-politician for long, with the sole purpose of moving me out of Kenya and taking over my property. She was actually banking on the politicianâ€™s political influence to achieve her aim. She already had two children for me before I found out and divorced her. She has been living with the politician since we separated and already has a kid for him, yet she wouldnâ€™t let me be because of what she is targeting.
Is it true that your case is still in court before you were deported?
That is true because, when I realized their target was to take over my property and force me back to Nigeria by any means, I went to court to obtain an injunction to stop them. So, when they saw that it would be difficult for them to sell any of my property there, they now came up with the idea of bundling me back home so that my case could be thrown out. That is why I still maintain that the issue of my deportation is about my property and nothing more. As we speak, the Attorney-General of Kenya has declared my deportation illegal, the countryâ€™s foreign affairs minister has also disowned the inhuman operation and washed her hands off the entire issue. Also, one of the biggest lawyer and a former Prosecutor-General in Kenya has declared my deportation illegal and unconstitutional, just as the Law Society of Kenya has condemned my deportation. I am well-known in Kenya as somebody doing legitimate business. He advised that even if there was need for my deportation, it should be after my all pending civil cases I had filed were properly dispensed with. So, what it means is that man and my ex-wife connived with Kenyan security men to deport me. If they could fund a chattered flight, with eight security details to bring me back to Nigeria, you can imagine what they are targeting to gain from my deportation. Half of my property in Kenya can chatter over 20 aircraft to bring all Nigerians back home from that country.
Assuming the Nigerian government intervenes and everything is settled, would you want to continue living in that country to do your business?
No, Iâ€™m no longer interested. Once I get back my property, I would invest my resources in Nigeria. Nigeria is a lovely country. We only travel out in search of business. Do you know that a car of two million Shillings there, which is about N4 million in Nigeria, is not worth up to N2 million if purchased here? Life is difficult there, yet they do not appreciate our investments and contributions to their economy. We are doing them a lot of favour because many Nigerians are marrying their women, while I have never seen any Nigerian woman married to a Kenyan. Without Nigeriaâ€™s patronage, Kenyan Airways would fold up. I am supposed to have automatically become a Kenyan citizen by the number of years I have lived there, by age, marriage, children, business, etc. But they hate Nigerians so much. I also have a strategically located 40 suites four-star hotel there. Do you know how many Kenyans who depend on that hotel for daily living?
Is it true they found drugs in your house?
Oh, you heard about it? The drug was part of their grand plan to nail me. The drug was planted by the Kenyan security men in connivance with the politician. That was about a month ago when they started the plot to deport me. But unfortunately for them, I saw them dropping it and I raised the alarm. I insisted that my fingerprints and those of all present be taken for forensic analysis to determine who dropped the drug among all of us. They later removed it and never charged me to court over the drug. Even in the present case, there is nothing about drug mentioned.
Apart from your hotel, what other business are you into in Kenya?
I am into real estate in Kenya. That is what gave me money. Everybody knows that I started from the scratch. I would buy a land, spread it and take my 20 per cent or 30 per cent, as the case may be. From there I would source money and develop the facility and sell to people. I made my money through real estate business, not drug. I never had anything to do with drug peddling in my life. All I have there I got through hard work. That is why I am begging the Nigerian government to help, because if the government releases that impounded aircraft and the Kenyanâ€™s grab my property, I would be doomed and become a street boy after many years of hard work and suffering.
Editorâ€™s Note: This article was originally published in Nigeriaâ€™s Sun News.