TRINIDAD-Nigerian rebels spend year in T&T as students
PORT OF SPAIN –– Nigerian rebels who were involved in military attacks against the Nigerian government spent a year in this country as tourism students.
This occurred even though the head of the Special Branch had raised a red flag and advised that they be sent back to their country as they posed a serious security threat to Trinidad and Tobago.
The issue of illegal immigrants has gripped national attention over the past few weeks, but since last year security intelligence agencies were probing the issue and wrote to former national security minister Jack Warner raising alarm about the 66 Nigerians, advising that they could cause havoc in this country.
The Express obtained a copy of the secret letter, dated March 27, 2013, to Warner from the head of the Special Branch in which he stated that the Nigerians were former combatants who were involved in numerous military attacks against Nigerian government oil installations located in the Niger Delta region, which led to the total shutdown of that country’s oil production.
Noting that the Nigerians were carded to be in Trinidad for one year, the officer stated: “They can be easily assimilated into the society and have the ability to assist others to create disastrous havoc in this country. These are experienced, violent militants and, as such, I wish to emphasize that their arrival should be considered a serious threat to our national security. In light of this, serious consideration should be given in having these individuals returned to their country and in the interim closely monitored.”
The Express contacted Warner yesterday, but he said he could not recall the letter.
Sources told the Express that some of the 66 Nigerians had caused serious trouble while here and on occasion the police were called in to quell situations that turned violent as they fought among themselves where they stayed.
They entered this country under a government to government arrangement where they were to come here and be trained at the Trinidad and Tobago Hospitality and Tourism Institute in conjunction with the National Energy Skills Centre.
The Special Branch head, in his letter to Warner, indicated that in their investigations of these Nigerians, a letter was found in their possession purported to be from the office of the special adviser to the president of Niger Delta, Nigeria, Kingsley Kuku, to the comptroller general of the Nigerian immigration service headquarters.
The Express also obtained a copy of this confidential letter.
The letter stated the Nigerians were former combatants who were involved in numerous attacks against the Nigerian government oil installations located in the Delta region and their actions had almost led to the total shutdown of that country’s oil production. The document stated that they were granted amnesty and had undergone non-violent transformational training at the Presidential Amnesty Demobilization Camp in Nigeria.
The Special Branch head informed Warner that the move to send these Nigerians to Trinidad was questionable and suspicious as there were numerous hospitality institutes in Nigeria while there were only two in this country.
The officer stated that within the last four to five years, successive Nigerian governments had had to cope with an upsurge of terrorist attacks and the proliferation of new militant groups and they were willing to use violence to highlight the socioeconomic and religious plight they faced.
“. . . One may reasonably conclude that the Nigerian authorities through its bilateral agreement with other countries was using these measures to rid their country of persons who are deemed to be a threat to the security of their country,” stated the Special Branch head.
The Express understands that the 66 Nigerians left Trinidad after their training was completed, but there were challenges during their stay and difficulty to get them to leave.
Minister of National Security Gary Griffith told the Express he was aware of the letter sent to Warner and that this was just one of several red flags raised. Griffith reiterated that national security intelligence had found there was a direct correlation between some illegal immigrants and criminal activities in this country, and that was why his ministry was intent on clamping down on the situation and offering regularization of status.