Croatian police deport Nigerian table tennis players with valid visas to Bosnia as ‘illegal immigrants’

Two Nigerian table-tennis players who have valid visas, were deported by Police in Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina claiming they are illegal immigrant.

The Nigerian players, Abie Uchenna Alexandra and Kenneth Chinedu, according to Hina, are students from Owerri Technical University in Nigeria, arrived in Zagreb the capital of Croatia on November 12 to participate in the sport’s World University Championships in Pula.

Croatian police deport Nigerian table tennis players with valid visas to Bosnia as 'illegal immigrants'

The Nigerians traveled from Pula to Zaggreb, two weeks after the tournament and settled in an hostel on November 16 after which they decided to tour the city as tourists before they fly back to Nigeria through Istanbul on November 18.

After they got off the train, they were arrested by police as they were not carrying their documents on them. They were then put in a van and taken to the Bosnia border and then dumped near a forest area.

“They took us to the police station. We tried to explain who we were and that we had left our documents in the hostel. They didn’t pay attention to what we were saying,” said Chinedu.

“I refused to go into the woods,” said Chinedu. “The officer told me he would shoot me if I didn’t move.”

After being chased by police, they reached the Miral Camp near Velika Kladusa in Bosnia. The students complained to representatives of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which runs the Miral Camp, and it was confirmed that the students had been staying in Croatia with legal visas.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Alberto Tanghetti, a representative of the Inter-University Sports Committee and the organiser of the competition in Pula, confirmed the validity of the Nigerian’s stay in Croatia.

“The two students were participating in the competition, they had a Croatian visa, return plane tickets from Zagreb to Istanbul and from Istanbul to Lagos.”

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