Posted by The Guardian on
The United States of America (USA) is perceived by people as a land of freedom and liberty, one of such persons is Mr. Osita Adubasim but the harrowing experience his wife was subjected to,...
The United States of America (USA) is perceived by people as a land of freedom and liberty, one of such persons is Mr. Osita Adubasim but the harrowing experience his wife was subjected to, at the Detroit Metroplitan Airport by officers of the Immigration and Naturalisation Services, which eventually culminated in her death has left him wondering if indeed, America is the land of freedom.
When Osita Adubasim came into The Guardian's office in Port Harcourt looking disconsolate, he was a sad and miserable man.
Narrating the events that led to the death of his wife, Adubasim said Doris, who died at the age of 31, had under the auspices of his company, DSNL Offshore, got a two-year American multiple visa on November 26, 2001 to expire on November 25, 2003. On August 2002, Doris had obtained permission from the United States Embassy in Nigeria to visit America on holidays with her three children. They were not going to stay for up to six months.
On the strength of the said permission, her husband said the deceased on August 10, 2002 travelled to the United States with her three children. They stayed for less than two months and came back to Nigeria on September 22, 2002, because the children had to resume school in Port Harcourt.
Since Doris had a valid visa and was expecting her fourth child in June 2003, Adubasim who has visited the America and was even due to attend a course in Florida last June, had wanted his wife to travel ahead of him to do some shopping for the family, especially the expected child. So between April 16, 2003 and May 20, 2003, Doris, who was seven months pregnant, in preparation for her next visit to America, regularly went to see her doctor for various examination and laboratory tests sequel to which she obtained various medical reports and certificates that she was fit to embark on the long distance journey.
Owing to the fact that he would be attending a course in the States by June, Adubasim asked his wife to go ahead on May 23, 2003. She was said to have taken a flight from Lagos to Amsterdam and had arrived at Schipol Airport, Amsterdam the next day. From there she boarded another flight to Detroit Metropolitan Airport on the same day. On her arrival at Detroit, the deceased, who was then eight months pregnant, was said to have been called upon by one Immigration Inspector, Mr. Richard L. Gillespic for an interview. Before the interview, Doris who explained her encounter with the immigration officer to her husband was said to have handed her Nigerian International passport to Gillespic and inside the passport was a valid American visa due to expire on November 25, 2003. She also handed over to the immigration officer her air ticket and other documents.
In a United States Department of Justice, Immigration and Naturalisation Services record of sworn statement of administration proceeding File No. 967420891 containing the questions Gillespic asked Doris at the airport she had explained to the immigration inspector who wanted to know her motive of visiting America and why she had an open air ticket that "my husband said he would be coming to me in a week's time. When he comes, he will go to Florida because he is attending a course there. He will come back to Atlanta Georgia and we can decide on when we will return."
Adubasim further said that after interviewing his wife on her arrival at the airport, the American immigration officers, knowing full well from the oral interview he had with his wife that her state of health had been duly certified as fit, proper to visit and stay in the United States for the shopping she had intended, yet the immigration officer blatantly refused her entry and ordered that she should be deported on the next available flight, despite the fact that she had a valid visa issued in Lagos. There was no reason given to her on why she would not be allowed entry into the country. Even attempt by the deceased to contact her relatives in America and even a lawyer were frustrated.
Adubasim said: "I called the United States. Surprisingly, my relatives there who were supposed to pick her from the airport told me she had not arrived. I was perturbed and immediately, I implored them to proceed to the airline office. It was there that they were told to call Nigeria to notify someone to pick her up at Lagos International Airport because she had been deported. I was astounded as regards to what might have prompted such action."
On hearing this, he flew into Lagos from Port Harcourt to his wife and to his dismay he noticed that her two feet has swollen as a result of the strenuous long distance journey, coupled with the rigorous interrogation she was subjected to at the Detroit Airport. "I mean, she was eight months pregnant and she was made to fly back the same long distance from United States to Nigeria. The immigration officers did not even deem it fit to consider the harmful effect of their decision and as fate could have it, she fell into the hands of death," lamented Adubasim.
Due to the traumatic experience she had gone through, Doris arrived the country sick. "Since my wife arrived in Nigeria on May 25, 2003, her health had continued to deteriorate and on June 13, 2003, she died after child birth," he said.
As far as Adubasim family was concerned, the cancellation of Doris visa and her subsequent deportation without regard to the fact that she was pregnant and had a valid visa and with sufficient money on her, the immigration officer at Detroit had accelerated her abrupt demise.
To buttress this opinion, Adubasim said Doris after the deportation from America, on her arrival at Amsterdam, still had to wait there for over five to six hours before another flight was due to fly to Nigeria, a journey of six and half hours.
"If you have travelled such a long distance as someone who is normal, you need sometimes to adjust yourself, not to talk of a woman who is eight months pregnant, to be on transit for such a long distance for forty-eight (48) hours. She did not change her clothes. She did not take her bath and did not eat good food. she did not rest and was put through this traumatic experience. This was the primary cause of the sickness that culminated in death now leaving me with four kids to fend for," he said.
According to her husband, Doris did not have any intention of delivering her baby in the United States of America. He told The Guardian that when they got married over seven years ago, he was not gainfully employed. Having lived with him throughout those seamy days till now that he could afford to give her the very best in life that money could offer, he naturally had felt she deserved a trip to the United States for shopping before returning home to give birth. Travelling out of the country, according to him, was a privilege they never had when they got married in 1996.
"She was going for shopping in the United States, I mean she had $4,104 with her. This was a woman who had suffered with me when I had no job, when I was nobody, yet she chose to marry me. We have been through a lot, right from the scratch to this level. I was ready to give her all the best things of life that I could afford. Now, all my dreams and aspirations with this woman has been ruined by the insensitivity of this overbearing American immigration official, who put my wife through this traumatic and strenuous journey that led to her death," he said.
His lawyer, Dare Enuah had written a letter of protest to the American Ambassador in Nigeria and to the Ministry of External Affairs in order to acquaint them of the predicament and excruciating experience his client's family was going though.
What has remained puzzling to Adubasim and this he has tried assiduously to unravel was why America, a nation acclaimed to be the land of freedom and liberty decided to subject an eight-month pregnant woman to such a long distant journey without recourse. "If she were a white lady, would the white immigration man send her back under a similar condition. I yearn for justice?" he said.
All efforts by the The Guardian to speak with officials of the American Embassy in Lagos through telephone to confirm if they have received Adubasim's petition has been unsuccessful.
"I need justice, someone has to tell me why my wife should die this way," Adubasim said.