Saturday, October 8, 2011
By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.
My write-up pointing out the outright mendacity in the claims of Kate Omeregbe,the Nigerian asylum seeker in Italy who lied that she had been condemned to death by stoning by a Nigerian Sharia court for refusing to convert to Islam, somehow made it to the Italian national media. Several local and national newspapers and TV stations in Italy liberally quoted the article, which inspired a renewed scrutiny on Omoregbe and her sponsors.
Among the Italian news media that quoted my article extensively are CN 24TV, a local TV station in the region where Omoregbe served her four-year prison term for drug trafficking; Calabria Ora, a local newspaper in the same area; Lamezia Oggi, another regional newspaper; Metro News, one of Italy’s most widely circulated newspapers; and Il Domani, an equally notable newspaper.
My Italian Internet acquaintance whose email message I published here last week told me that my article has “had tremendous impact” and has caused Franco Corbelli, leader of Italy’s Civil Rights Movement that championed Omoregbe’s cause, to be subjected to intense questioning by the Italian news media.
He shared with me the link to a story on the website of an Italian TV station where Corbelli launched laughably petty personal attacks on me when he was asked to respond to the issues I raised in my article. He called my article “shameful,” “scandalous,” “lies,” a "low blow," and described me as “an unknown self-styled intellectual.”
When he was pushed harder by journalists to respond to the substance of my article, he changed Omoregbe’s story. It is no longer that a Sharia court in Benin City sentenced her to death by stoning for refusing to convert to Islam; it is now that although Omoregbe was born in Benin City, she moved to Sokoto in northwest Nigeria where she was forced to convert to Islam and marry an old man.
In response to my observation that Islam does not have any kind of punishment for people who refuse to convert to the religion, he retorted that the death sentence on Omoregbe was based not on Islamic jurisprudence but on “local customs” in Sokoto—another blatant lie.
Northern Nigerian local customs, which are codified in the Penal Code, have no punishment for refusal to convert to Islam—or to any other religion. What’s more, as my Italian acquaintance aptly observed, the governor of Kate Omoregbe’s native Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, was born a Muslim but converted to Catholicism and he is still alive. Interestingly, for most of his adult life,Oshiomhole lived in Kaduna, a “Sharia state” like Sokoto. If Omoregbe’s story had any credibility, Oshiomhole should have been stoned to death, too, according to "local customs."
The astonishingly unnerving stupidity and gullibility of “activists” like Corbelli is contributing to making Italy an irresistible magnet for all manner Nigerian economic refugees and criminals who fabricate all kinds of wacky, infantile lies to play on the heartstrings of people in authority in Italy. I briefly wrote about a Tina Richard last week who is appealing against the denial of her petition for an asylum in Italy.
To make her case as compelling as Kate Omoregbe’s, she is now telling Italian authorities that her entire Catholic family was wiped out by a powerful Muslim man in Kano (which she misspelled as “Kanu”) because she refused to marry the man. Had she not mysteriously escaped to Italy, she says, she would have been dead, too. Of course, she doesn’t look anything like a Kano woman and, in fact, couldn’t even spell Kano correctly.
But Richard’s story has already won a high-profile Italian sucker. On September 22, President of the (Italian) Province of Florence, Andrea Barducci, threw his full weight behind her petition for asylum, saying deporting her to Nigeria "would amount to a death sentence."
Another Nigerian from Edo State identified as Joshua John Paul (obviously a made-up name to appeal to the Catholic sensibilities of Italians) has won a three-year temporary Permit of Stay in Italy after claiming that he is a Catholic homosexual who has been declared wanted by Nigerian sharia courts because he had homosexual relations with a Muslim man in Edo State! He presented a forged, error-ridden police announcement, which purportedly appeared in the Observer, Edo State’s government newspaper, that reads as follows:
"Joshua John Paul comes from the state of Edo in Nigeria, from the Bini tribe, and is coloured. He is involved in cases of sexual molestation (homosexual) with Almed Suleman, whose family belongs to a Muslim tribe. John Paul has perpetrated this behaviour (homosexual) for a long time, causing disorders between the Christian and the Muslim in Nigeria. The police is looking for him. Anyone who has urgent information about him is asked to get in touch with the nearest police station in exchange for a rich reward.
Bashiru Mohammed Soleman.”
|"Joshua John Paul" also presented this obviously fake newspaper story to Italian authorities|
Doesn’t this take the cake in rib-tickling hilarity? Who would have thought that any thinking, intelligent person would believe this juvenile, unintelligent fabrication? To start with, Muslims are not a tribe; they are, like Christians, a community of believers who cut across the primordial fault-lines of race and ethnicity.
Second, how can the private homosexual relations between two people (supposing this is true) in just one of Nigeria’s 36 states (which is, in fact, predominantly Christian) have the capacity to “cause disorder between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria”? And which Nigerian Muslim spells Suleiman as “Soleman” and Ahmed as “Almed”? Too many red flags.
Well, “Joshua John Paul” knew only too well that his information didn’t have to be factual or accurate or even sensible. In Italy, it would seem, all you need to do to get an asylum is to claim victimhood of a non-existent Islamic scourge, then assert the irrevocability of your Catholic faith and, viola, you have an Italian asylum! Joshua John Paul, in fact, went beyond that: he also claimed to be gay. So he was able to galvanize the support both of religious organizations and gay rights groups. Some smart criminal!
Since Italians seem love our criminals so much, the Nigerian government should probably make an arrangement to transfer many of the criminals overflowing in our prisons to Italy. Since even President Jonathan was sufficiently frightenedby the threat of Boko Haram to cancel Nigeria’s 51st IndependenceDay celebration, Boko Haram can be invoked as the reason for transferring our criminals to Italy!