Why we fled Nigeria – Diasporans

SOME Nigerians in the diaspora have taken to X (formerly Twitter)  to recount what led to their fleeing from the country. 

This followed a question posed by an X user, Fisayo Osudo, enquiring about what made some Nigerians decide to leave the country. 

“People who left Nigeria, what was the thing that made you finally decide to leave?” Osudo asked on X.

“Japa”, a Yoruba expression which means “to flee”, is now widely used among Nigerians to express a desire to leave the country for various reasons. However, while some leave the countries for a “greener pasture”, some, especially youths, were forced to leave owing to the country’s myriad of challenges.

Reacting to the post, some Nigerians who have fled the country cited police brutality, insecurity, bad leadership, unemployment and other challenges as their major reasons for leaving the country. 

A Nigerian in Diaspora, @Miz_Estaa, recounted being attacked by thugs in Lagos.

He tweeted, “I moved to Lagos to be closer to my long-distance boo. I was on Alfred Rewane waiting for my colleague. Obalende boys entered my car, made me drive to their office, deflated my tires, took my keys and made me withdraw N25,000 to get my car back. Long distance marriage entered voice mail.”

Another Nigerian based in the United States, Uchenna Osuchukwu, narrated how he lost some valuable possessions when he was kidnapped, but the policemen asked him to bring N200,000 when he went to report. 

“I was kidnapped, they emptied my bank account and my people still paid ransom. They took my car and damaged it. One of them transferred money directly from my account to his; one bought airtime directly from my bank. I took all the evidence to the police and was asked to pay N200k, but I let it slide. 

“A month after that, police at Enugu stopped me while driving back to Abuja, planted dirty panties in my luggage while searching it and threatened to shoot me right there if I argued and did not cooperate with them. They labelled me a Yahoo boy/man (meaning a fraudster in Nigeria.)

“In Abuja the next week, a police lady slapped me for nothing. I slapped back, and her colleagues, who were men, attacked me, one wanted to stab me with a dagger. 

“The last thing that made me say, “fu-k it” was the day Vehicle Inspection Officer personnel in Abuja attacked me. One entered my car and nearly made me crash into a fence of Ya’dua Center. @whitenigerian witnessed this one. Right there, I realized Nigeria seriously wanted to kill me by all means. The next day, my wife and I started the process of leaving.

Similarly, another Nigerian based in the United Kingdom with X name Guyman recounted being assaulted by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, a unit of the Nigerian Police Force notorious for human rights violations.

A Nigerian based in the United Arab Emirates, @Ibii_o, made up her mind in October 2020 when the security operatives opened fire at harmless protesters against police brutality in Lagos. 

He tweeted, “Oct 2020, I never got over the fact that the person whose number one responsibility was to protect us opened fire on us, bypassed rubber bullet, teargas, etc. and went straight to killing us. I knew it was time to pack my bag for real.

The nonchalant attitude and extortion by the Nigerian Police have been long-standing issues plaguing the nation. The challenge, which has deeply affected the lives of ordinary citizens and continues to erode trust in the institutions meant to protect them, led to a massive protest in October 2020. 

The lack of public trust in law enforcement hampers efforts to combat crime effectively. Citizens are often reluctant to report crimes, fearing extortion or harassment by officers meant to protect them. 

The ICIR reported how Police brutality, extortion and harassment have persisted after the #EndSARS protest. The report pointed out that youths are the principal victims and the method/strategy of extortion. 

The ICIR also reported how the challenge plagues many young Nigerians and frustrates many start-up businesses for years. The report detailed how Nigerians continue to fall victim and lose businesses to the menace.

Another Nigerian X user, based in England, @Ayodeji_87, said he left the country due to incessant industrial actions by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). 

Damilola Michael Ige’s reason for leaving the country for the United Kingdom was the attack on Kuje prison. Michael was staying at Kuje at the time and decided to protect himself.

The ICIR reported how gunmen ridiculously attacked the Kuje Prison in the Kuje area of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in July 2022. 

The facility has served as the correctional centre for many prominent Nigerians, including former governors, lawmakers and errant security operatives.

A survey conducted by the Nigeria Social Cohesion Survey revealed that seven out of 10 Nigerians are willing to relocate to other countries for various reasons, with many of them recording success.

Nurudeen Akewushola is an investigative reporter and fact-checker with The ICIR. He believes courageous in-depth investigative reporting is the key to social justice, accountability and good governance in the society. You can shoot him a scoop via nyahaya@icirnigeria.org and @NurudeenAkewus1 on Twitter.

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