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Nigerian trafficking victim demands residence permit

Ntsebeng Motsoeli

MARTIN Chukwuma, the Nigerian human trafficking victim, who last month sought the intervention of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) over his six-year ordeal at the hands of his employer, is now demanding a residence permit from the Lesotho authorities.

In a recent interview with the Sunday Express, Mr Chukwuma also accused the Lesotho authorities of failing to address his problems after they were ordered to provide him with travel documents by the PAC last month.

He said since the PAC the home affairs officials have ignored his calls every time he wanted to talk to them about the progress in giving him the services he wants.

He added that is now demanding a temporary residence permit because his fear was that he might not be given the return visa to Lesotho once he is back in Nigeria.

“I no longer want the travel document to Nigeria but a temporary residence permit because my fear is that once I go to Nigeria to apply for a new passport without the temporary residence permit, the Lesotho Home Affairs officer may not give me the visa that I need to have the chance to testify in my court case,” Mr Chukwuma said.

“They (Home Affairs officials) are already giving me a run-around while I am still here.  They will definitely do the same when I am far away from them.”

Last month Mr Chukwuma, made an unannounced appearance at one of the PAC sessions and said he was coerced into coming to Lesotho with the promise of a lucrative job by a fellow Nigerian, Eric Richard.

Mr Chukwuma who is a building contractor, told PAC that he was invited to the country in 2012 by Mr Richard who told him he wanted him to build a double storey house. Mr Chukwuma said Mr Richard told him that he needed his services because “Basotho do not know how to build a double storey like Nigerians”.

When he approached the PAC, Mr Chukwuma said he wanted the ministry of Home Affairs to process his travel documents to and from Nigeria so that he could go back home and come back to testify on his human trafficking case against Mr Richard which is before the courts.

The PAC chairperson, Selibe Mochoboroane, at the time then ordered senior officials in the ministry of Home Affairs to address Mr Chukwuma’s grievances after he accused them of sending him from pillar to post when asked for help.

During the PAC session, the ministry of Home Affairs principal secretary, ‘Machabana Lemphane Letsie, committed to process travel papers for Mr Chukwuma.

For her part, Ms Letsie told the Lesotho Times that Mr Chukwuma wanted the Home Affairs ministry to issue him a Lesotho passport which is impossible since he is a Nigerian.

Ms Letsie said Mr Chukwuma can only be given a one-way travel document to Nigeria because his Nigerian passport has expired.

She said she could only award Mr Chukwuma a visa to come back to Lesotho when he has received a valid passport from Nigeria.

“What he (Mr Chukwuma) wants is a Lesotho passport. We will not give him a Lesotho passport because he is a Nigerian not a Mosotho. That will not happen. I told him that I will give him a one-way travel document and give him a visa when he has received a passport from Nigeria,” Ms Letsie said.

Mr Chukuwma however, accused Ms Letsie of avoiding his calls.

“I still have not received help from the ministry of Home Affairs and the PS has not been answering my calls,” Mr Chukwuma said.

“I met her once and that was only because I went to her office unannounced. She told me to come back later but she has continued to ignore my calls.”

Ms Letsie denied Mr Chukwuma’s allegations that she has been ignoring his calls.

“It is unfair of him to say that I am ignoring his calls. I do not have his mobile phone numbers. I miss so many calls that I would not be able to call all of them back,” Ms Letsie said.

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