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Checked out!

New twist to Nigerian students' saga

Ten Nigerian students, who were among a group of 11 ordered by their government to leave Barbados and return home immediately, have reportedly defied the order, opting instead to remain on the island.

It’s the latest dramatic twist to the unfolding saga involving 87 students, who arrived here last December, under the Delta State Youth Empowerment Programme for Barbados, to pursue a nine-month course of study in agriculture and tourism at the Barbados Community College (BCC).

Nigerian students at the Grantley Adams International Airport as they arrived in the island.

Nigerian students at the Grantley Adams International Airport as they arrived in the island.

Investigations by Barbados TODAY have revealed that only one member of the group actually boarded the flight out of the Grantley Adams International Airport this morning and left the island, while the other ten students had refused to board the bus for the airport and return home.

Up to news time the exact whereabouts of the ten could not be ascertained, but the official caretaker of the students, who were being accommodated at the Casa Grande hotel in Oldbury, St Philip, reported that they had left the property earlier in the day with former project manager Sharon Brathwaite and attorney-at-law Douglas Trotman.

In an urgent letter dispatched earlier to the programme’s consultant coordinator Donna St Hill,  the caretaker, who goes by the name Dele, also complained that the students had refused to leave Barbados as instructed.

“I am appalled by their behaviour, as the head of the Nigerians living in Barbados. It is damaging the image of Nigerians living in Barbados,” the letter, which has been shared with Barbados TODAY, read in part.

He also raised concern that the students were getting bad advice from the Nigerian High Commission in Trinidad, which he said had also been apprised of the developments.

“[I am] equally appalled to hear from our house parents  . . .  that they [the 11 students] are listing among their objections, that their return to Nigeria is not approved of by the Acting High Commissioner in Trinidad Adeyemi,” the letter adds.

The Government of Barbados was also informed of the situation, as well as the Governor and other state authorities in Nigeria and the parents of the students.

Donna  St Hill

Donna St Hill

St Hill, who is reportedly in South Africa, could not be reached for comment today.

Neither could the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defence and Security Gabrielle Springer, Chief Immigration Officer Erene Griffith, the Government’s liason officer Deryck Murray or attorney-at-law Trotman.

However, when contacted tonight the former project manager Sharon Brathwaite confirmed that she had seen the students but did not provide any further details.

In the meantime Barbados TODAY has obtained a copy of an official letter dated February 18, 2015, which was dispatched to Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, via Minister of Education Ronald Jones. In it, the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice in Nigeria, C.A. Ajuyah, made it clear that his government had never had any contract with Brathwaite, who was recently suspended by St Hill.

“Kindly be advised that the State Government at no time engaged or executed a Memorandum of Understanding with the said Sharon Brathwaite of SRB Management Services to undertake any business for it in the Barbados or elsewhere,” the letter to Prime Minister Stuart said.

However, the Nigerian official said it had come to his government’s attention that Brathwaite had been telling the Barbados Government and its people that she had an MOU with the Nigeria to manage the training programme.

“In the circumstances, I write to request that you discountenance any claim by the said Sharon Brathwaite of SRB Management Services and extend your courtesies to Donna St Hill,” the letter states.

It was copied to Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator Maxine McClean, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defence and Security, the Chief Immigration Officer and Murray, who is the head of the Commission for Pan African Affairs.

In a further development, negotiations were said to be underway to place the remaining 76 students in another school in Barbados so they could pursue their studies. This after a special appeal was made to the Prime Minister earlier this week to intervene on the students’ behalf.

Since coming here, they have been embroiled in controversy, first complaining about the standard of accommodation and the quality of food and lack of water at the hotel.   

However, a small group of the students subsequently apologized to local and Nigerian authorities for the conduct of their colleagues, saying that some of the complaints were fabricated. They also asked that the programme be maintained.

But earlier this month, the Director of Finance Paul Ataime sent emails to the students in Barbados, formally notifying them via email, that the programme had been suspended.  The email read: “I have been directed to inform you, our trainees in Barbados, that in view of the challenges which you currently face on welfare, the admissions process, coupled with certain acts of rudeness exhibited by some of you, government has decided to suspend the Barbados end of the programme.” That official has since been replaced.

13 Responses to Checked out!

  1. Desmond Edwards
    Desmond Edwards February 21, 2015 at 5:17 am

    What’s the real story here? How did these students get to be in Barbados.? I have a big n burning question : ” Is there any connection with any of the facilitators and any Nigerian authorities?”

  2. Beverley Hunte-Springer
    Beverley Hunte-Springer February 21, 2015 at 6:08 am

    This was trouble from the get go.

    • Rawle Spooner
      Rawle Spooner February 21, 2015 at 6:37 am

      Thanks Beverly thought i was the only one who felt this way.

    • Richelle Bourne
      Richelle Bourne February 21, 2015 at 8:22 am

      Totally agree with you Beverly

    • NathAn Salcedo
      NathAn Salcedo February 21, 2015 at 8:26 am

      If they were Canadian like the couple who was in the hospital they would be fine huh

  3. Tony Webster February 21, 2015 at 6:44 am

    Me and my big, wide mout: as soon as this hit the headlines, I reminded of another infamous (and costly) event, when this country had to lease an aircraft to get a bunch of Nigerians to say adieu to these friendly shores. Hope Mr. Sinckler has some financial leeway to write another cheque.
    Our A.G. just this week reminded our Immigration Officers to do their jobs effectively. Whatever happened to making sure visitors have two-way tickets?

  4. Alex Alleyne February 21, 2015 at 7:05 am

    A sad story gone sour . trouble , trouble and more trouble .

  5. Joseph Harding February 21, 2015 at 9:49 am

    Time for immigration to get involved. Revoke whatever visas they have, round them up and get them on the next flight out to Nigeria via the UK.

  6. Maxine Hutchinson February 21, 2015 at 11:20 am

    I remember someone made a comment on this site about the Nigerian “scammers”. That person even warned us about our credit cards and wallets. Somehow, I found myself believing that person even without trying to find out anything about the people of Nigeria. That person was right to some extent. Though we have not heard any stories about credit cards or wallets – at least not yet, their behaviour tells us clearly that they need to be in their homeland.

    Barbados is a small country. We would not want those 10 people to be all over our gullies and districts hiding about because they do not want to go home. Are they afraid that Boka Haram will find out about their actions and annihilate them when they arrive home? I also smell that someone will be sent to prison, either here or in Nigeria.

    Please see to it that they go home. Round them up. I smell much more trouble involving them. I applaud the one who obeyed the instructions of the authorities and returned home. The element of extradition may also surface in this matter.

  7. Patrick Blackman February 21, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    As silly as it may seem we should never let a crisis go to waste. This is a great opportunity to enhance our relations with African countries and promote Barbados.

    Put up the students for the year, treat them well and promote Barbados as a place to study and get a good education, the few dollars we spend on them could bring huge rewards in travel from Africa. Stop talking about silly scams by the Nigerians, USA citizens scam us everyday but we still run to them, so help a brother or sister out and promote how we took care of them.

    • bajanguyster February 22, 2015 at 12:15 pm

      I am with you Mr blackman but still we must still be wise in whatever we do ,things happen

  8. Tony Waterman February 22, 2015 at 12:49 am

    I predicted it in a recent Comment and i will say it again, their next move will be to ask for Immigrant Status in Barbados, in other woeds THEY WANT TO REMAIN/LIVE PERMANTLY IN BARBADOS, THEY DO NOT WANT TO GO BACK TO NIGERIA.

  9. Tony Waterman February 22, 2015 at 12:56 am

    It is at this point that the Government, should get involved and return them from whence they came ASAP. It is however concerning that the Proprietor of the whole thing, Donna St.Hill is now nowhere to be found, but she was so Vocal at the Beginning.
    THIS WAS AND STILL IS A COLLOSSAL SCAM. I hope that they are being made to pay in advance for any services rendered, otherwise there is going to be some weeping and knashing of teeth when this is all over. hope i dont hear about people running to the Government to get Compensated. this was NOT a Government Project.


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