Nigerian rebels spent a year in Trinidad as tourism students

News-1Port of Spain, Trinidad — Nigerian rebels who were involved in military attacks against the Nigerian government spent a year in Trinidad and Tobago as tourism students. This occurred even though the head of the Special Branch had raised a red flag and advised that they be sent back to their country as they posed a serious security threat to Trinidad and Tobago.

The issue of illegal immigrants has gripped national attention over the past few weeks, but since last year security intelligence agencies have been probing the issue and wrote to then national security minister Jack Warner raising alarm about the 66 Nigerians, advising that they could cause havoc in this country.

The Express obtained a copy of the secret letter, dated March 27, 2013, to Warner from the head of the Special Branch in which he stated that the Nigerians were former combatants who were involved in numerous military attacks against Nigerian government oil installations located in the Niger Delta region, which led to the total shutdown of that country’s oil production.

Noting that the Nigerians were expected to be in Trinidad for one year, the officer stated: “They can be easily assimilated into the society and have the ability to assist others to create disastrous havoc in this country. These are experienced, violent militants and, as such, I wish to emphasise that their arrival should be considered a serious threat to our national security. In light of this, serious consideration should be given in having these individuals returned to their country and in the interim closely monitored.”

The Express contacted Warner on Monday, but he said he could not recall the letter.

Sources told the Express that some of the 66 Nigerians had caused serious trouble whilst they were here and on occasions the police were called in to quell situations that turned violent as they fought among themselves and created disturbances in the areas in which they stayed.

They entered the country under a government to government arrangement where they were to come to Trinidad and Tobago and be trained at the Hospitality and Tourism Institute in conjunction with the National Energy Skills Centre.

The Special Branch head, in his letter to Warner, indicated that in their investigations of these Nigerians, a letter was found in their possession purported to be from the office of the special adviser to the president of Niger Delta, Nigeria, Kingsley Kuku, to the comptroller general of the Nigerian immigration service headquarters.

The Express also obtained a copy of this confidential letter.

The letter stated the Nigerians were former combatants who were involved in numerous attacks against the Nigerian government oil installations located in the Delta region and their actions had almost led to the total shutdown of that country’s oil production.

The document stated that they were granted amnesty and had undergone non-violent transformational training at the presidential amnesty demobilisation camp in Nigeria.

The Special Branch head informed Warner that the move to send these Nigerians to Trinidad was questionable and suspicious as there were numerous hospitality institutes in Nigeria while there were only two in Trinidad and Tobago.

The officer stated that within the last four to five years successive Nigerian governments have had to cope with an upsurge of terrorist attacks and the proliferation of new militant groups and they were willing to use violence to highlight the socio-economic and religious plight they faced.

“…One may reasonably conclude that the Nigerian authorities through its bilateral agreement with other countries was using these measures to rid their country of persons who are deemed to be a threat to the security of their country,” stated the Special Branch head.

He also indicated that the presence of the 66 Nigerians in this country potentially posed an immediate threat to the national security as law enforcement continues to grapple with the scourge of criminal activity.

The Express understands that the 66 Nigerians left Trinidad after their training was completed, but there were challenges during their stay and difficulty in getting them to leave.

Current National Security Minister Gary Griffith told the Express that he was aware of the letter that was sent to Warner and said that this was just one of several red flags that were raised.

Griffith reiterated that national security intelligence has found that there is a direct correlation to some illegal immigrants and criminal activities in this country.

He said he was not deeming all illegal immigrants as national security threats but there are some who pose a risk to the nation and that is why the Ministry is intent on clamping down on the situation and offering regularisation of status.

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