Eighteen-year-old student Abia Uchenna Alexandro from Nigeria arrived in Croatia on November 12 this year to participate in the fifth World Intercollegiate Championship in Pula. He represented the Federal University of Technology Owerri in a table tennis competition. After completing the competition, together with four other colleagues, he returned to Zagreb from where he was scheduled to fly to Istanbul on November 18.
After arriving in Zagreb, with his colleague Eboh Kenneth Chinedu, he settled into a hostel and went out for a walk in the city.
- On entering the tram we were stopped by the police. They took us to the police station. We tried to explain who we were and that our documents were in the hostel. They did not pay attention to what we were saying, Kenneth Chinedu told Eboh Žurnal.
WALK, OR I’LL SHOOT
- We don't know what time it was, but it was dark ... They took us out of the station and put us in a van. They drove us to an unknown place. Two police officers told us ‘you are going to Bosnia’. I've never been to Bosnia. I came by plane to Zagreb, I told them I didn't know Bosnia. They told us no, you are going to Bosnia. After a while, the van stopped and we were pushed into the bushes. I refused to go into the woods, then the cop told me if I didn't move he was going to shoot me, says Eboha Kenneth.
In an interview with Žurnal, Nigerian students said they were scared and did not know what to do. The migrants, who were forced by Croatian police, together with them, to cross over to the territory of BiH through the forest, took them to a camp in Velika Kladuša.
Since then, Abia Uchenna Alexandro and Eboha Kenneth Chinedu have been stationed at Camp Miral in Velika Kladuša.
- Our passports and all belongings remained in Zagreb. I managed to call a colleague from the camp, who was with us in the competition, to send us passports. We don't know what to do, the visa for Croatia expires today, says Kenneth Chinedu.
The Miral Camp is managed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Žurnal was briefly explained that, following the confirmation from the competition organizers that they were indeed students with duly issued visas, they had informed the organization “Your Rights” in Sarajevo which would take over their case.
The organization did not respond to calls from the Žurnal’s journalists.
FILMED BY CROATIAN TV
The Inter-University Sports Committee, the organizer of the Pula World Cup, says it has been informed of the case. Speaking to Žurnal, Committee Representative Alberto Tanghetti said that there were a total of five participants from Nigeria, four students and a professor, and that they all had regularly isdued visas.
- These two students were in the competition, they had a Croatian visa, return plane tickets from Zagreb to Istanbul and from Istanbul to Lagos. So they had a visa to come to the competition, they had their return tickets ... At the competition, they were filmed by Croatian television. On Sunday 17/11, they traveled to Zagreb because they had a flight to Istanbul on Monday. Seven days later, I received a call from the camp, informing me that they have two Nigerian students taken by the Croatian police to BiH. I don't understand how it happened because the police in Pula were informed that they were here, Thanghetti says.
They said that they will call the University of Pula, inform the Croatian MUP and see how they can help students.