Croatia Police has deported two Nigerian table-tennis players, Abie Uchenna Alexandra and Kenneth Chinedu to Bosnia and Herzegovina, claiming both men were in the country illegally, even though they both arrived in Croatia with valid visas.
According to Hina, the government-owned national news agency, Alexandra and Chinedu, 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.
After the tournament ended two weeks ago, both Nigerians traveled from Pula to Zagreb, and settled into a hostel on November 16 then decided to check out the city as tourists since they were scheduled to fly back to Nigeria through Istanbul on November 18.
The pair were then stopped and arrested by police as they got off a train because they were not carrying their documents with 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, the officer told me he would shoot me if I didn’t move” Chinedu added.
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.
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,” Tanghetti said to Al Jazeera.