Nigerians in India are one of the largest African communities in the country

Picture: BBC World

At present, there are approximately more than one lakh Nigerians living and working in India. These Nigerians have a negative public image as some Nigerians are involved in illegal activities in India such as drug trafficking, drug addiction, prostitution trafficking, fraud and forgery of travel documents, such as passports and visas, and trafficking in stolen documents. There are also hundreds of known Nigerians in various prisons across India. Nigeria itself treats its people badly. They don’t care about their people. Why should others care about them?

Nigerians are involved in the drug trade, as are Russians, Israelis, British nationals and yes, some of our beloved Indian compatriots. African drug traffickers are like all other traffickers. India is the most preferred place for education of Nigerians. They come with a commercial or business visa or a study visa. Once settled in their herd, they plan an illegal way to attract the gullible Indian population. From fishing to doping, they trap people by extracting money from them. Africans and especially Nigerians are considered economically backward countries; India gives them the opportunity to earn money and learn. Most Nigerians in India never return. They destroy their passports and stay in their colonies for years. There is no control over their visit.

There are many Indians in Nigeria (around 300,000 compared to one lakh Nigerians in India). These Indians work in Nigeria and many are millionaires. Nigerians wonder why they accept Indians in Nigeria, when Indians are hostile to Nigerians in India. The main reason, Indians never sell drugs, they are non-violent and above all, they contribute to the economy of Africa. Most African Indians are investors and business groups that create income for their nation. You will hardly find Indians in foreign prisons doing illegal activities.

You will find foreign nationals detained in Indian prisons; most are for drug-related offences. Dealing with Nigerians is not very easy as strict action here endangers innocent Indians living in Nigeria. Police officials say Nigerians are aggressive business owners and are not deterred by arrest. Police have been unable to penetrate Nigerian drug gangs that have links to global cartels. Although We Mumbai people are very tolerant of migrants; whether Bangladeshis or Africans. Vast squares are attributed to their name. There are restaurants and shops in Mumbai. They are the representatives of fortune in distant lands but the source of these scam emails beckoning to win the lottery, all these scammers live in the yard of Mumbai – Mira road, Pila house, Nagpada and Byculla.

‘Nigerianwadi’ a 20 minute walk from Mira Road station, the IP addresses of almost all the computers from which these scam emails originate refer to Mira Road. Mira Road provides fraudsters with perfect camouflage. A fast-growing suburb, it offers them desperately needed anonymity and cheap one-room apartments rented for as little as Rs 5,000-8,000 per month. The word Nigerianwadi was coined by police officers who were often brutalized while trying to arrest a suspect in a scam or drug case. Many of these Nigerians have now migrated to other areas including Nalasopara, Vasai and Virar.

These Nigerians are not only drug addicts, but violent. The police openly admit that it scares them to detain local Nigerian suspects. They are physically strong and do everything to resist the cops. The African drug ring has been notoriously difficult to combat, and more often than not the traffickers cheat the cops. But fleeing the police is not the only way criminals have hooked up with the drug trade in Mumbai for so long. Like illegal immigrants around the world, African drug traffickers tear up their passports upon arrival in India to avoid deportation. The hawkers at one point refuse to divulge their nationality, and despite searching their homes, cellphones and other belongings, the cops find virtually no clues. The peddlers have even figured out that getting arrested can help them stay in the country longer. Many of them are trying to get themselves arrested on purpose, because we can’t deport them until the investigation and trial are complete. This can take several months or even years.

African hawkers tell the police that there is so much poverty in their country that they keep getting arrested so they can stay in India. So far, they have only deported two peddlers to Nigeria since 2017, although police have arrested 45 African dealers over the same period (29 in 2017 and 16 in 2018). Apart from the charges under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS) and the Maharashtra Police Act, the police also added offenses under the Passports Act, for unlawful entry and concealment of their citizenship. These Nigerians are a dangerous handicap to the economy of our country. Most Nigerians even prefer to stay in brothels. Sex workers find it safe to keep them, and they are physically strong and can protect these women from any nonsense. Losing to these men and their violent approach, the clients attempt to be punished. The cost of keeping them is just a space in the corner and two meals. These Nigerians pay a better amount than local clients, and sex workers in Mumbai play a crucial role in harboring these drug traffickers.

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