"WR6_gUnUj-ztiW07KQcOCnTel9A"/> Notes From Atlanta: Lies Nigerians Tell in Italy in the Name of Sharia

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Lies Nigerians Tell in Italy in the Name of Sharia

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

Nigerians can do and say the most bizarre things just to live abroad. This includes telling willfully unabashed, off-the-wall lies that make you go “really?” For instance, on August 19 this year, an illegal immigrant Nigerian woman in Italy by the name of Kate Omoregbe made headlines in the Italian news media when she claimed that she would be stoned to death if she was deported to Nigeria.

She said when she lived in Nigeria, she resisted attempts to convert her to Islam and to railroad her into a forced marriage. The punishment for her resistance, she told an Italian court, is death by stoning or acid bath in Nigeria’s Sharia courts! Incredible, right? Well, wait for more.

She has made a sufficiently “convincing” case that the Italian Parliament—yes, the Italian Parliament!—has taken up her case. In all likelihood, the parliament would grant her amnesty if only to save her from the “impending torment” that awaits her should she be deported to Nigeria. Isn’t it so profitable to lie in the name of Sharia in Europe?
Kate Omoregbe

OK, here is Omoregbe’s full story. She not only went to Italy illegally, she also took large quantities of marijuana to sell in the country. Luck ran against her and she was nabbed by Italian law enforcement agents. She was subsequently tried and jailed for four years. Her four-year jail term will expire this month. Under Italian law, she is supposed to be deported to Nigeria this month.

But Omoregbe will rather die in Italy than live in Nigeria. “Please don't send me back to Nigeria,” she wrote in an Italian Catholic newspaper called Avvenire. “I only ask to be allowed to stay in Italy, to resume my studies and get my degree. I want to start a family, defend my freedom of choice and my Catholic faith.”

She wrote that were it not for her strong Catholic faith, she would have committed suicide. "Many times I hoped I would die,” she wrote. “Only my Catholic faith kept me going. Now all I ask is to be saved from a horrible fate.” The “horrible fate,” of course, is that she would stoned to death or bathed in acid in Nigeria because she refused to convert to Islam and accede to a forced marriage.

The story provoked mixed emotions in me. The first time I read it I laughed out so hysterically that I almost fell off my chair. I am not making this up, trust me. I thought Omoregbe’s lie was so conspicuously bizarre that no averagely intelligent person would believe it. First, no one has ever been stoned to death in Nigeria for anything, much less for refusing to convert to Islam. Nigeria’s constitution upholds every citizen’s right to practice the religion of their choice, including changing their religion.

 Second, there is no punishment in Islam for refusal to convert to the religion, and acid bath has never been a form of punishment for any offense at any time in Islam’s history. Third, Omoregbe sounds like a Benin name and, the last time I checked, Edo State isn’t one of the 12 “Sharia states” in Nigeria. Plus, Nigeria is a famously multi-religious society, and the country’s current president is, in fact, a Christian. So there is not even the remotest chance that anyone can be stoned to death or bathed in acid for refusing to convert to any religion in Nigeria.

That was why I laughed. But I became sober when I read that Italy’s highest law-making body is taking up Omoregbe’s appeal. (There are, in fact, many Italian Internet support groups championing her lies!) Are you freaking kidding me? Why would anyone take seriously this noticeably infantile and rib-tickling lie by a criminal? I thought only an irredeemably stupid person would even think twice about dismissing Omoregbe’s plea as a load of comical, incompetent taradiddle. But Italian judges and parliamentarians aren’t a bunch of nescient idiots. So why would they not spot the evident mendacity and outlandishness in this criminal’s pleas?

Well, I have two theories. First, it appears that Italians are so ethnocentric and so insular that they are prepared to believe the very worst of any nation, especially if that nation is in Africa. Aren’t black Africans, after all, supposed to be naked, cave-dwelling, cannibalistic savages that were lucky to be touched by only faint sprinkles of European modernity? So why investigate any eccentric claims of inhuman cruelty in Africa?

Second, the growing Islamophobia in Europe has predisposed people to believe the worst of Islam and Muslims. When you combine racist condescension toward Africa with the irrational hatred and fear of Islam you get an emotionally combustible mixture that can blind even the most clear-sighted bigot to the most obvious lie.

This isn’t the first time this has happened. On this blog on September 8, 2007, I wrote about another Nigerian economic refugee identified as Felix Eugenne who told an equally brazen lie to immigration officers in Italy. He said he had impregnated a Muslim girl by the name of Fatimah in Niger State and that, in accordance with Sharia law, he was billed to be stoned to death when he mysteriously bolted from the prison! And some Italians believed him.

But that’s not even the most shocking lie. When did this incident allegedly happen? Wait for it—in 1994! Yes, it isn’t a typo. It’s 1994—when General Sani Abacha held sway as the military head of state and when Sharia had not been introduced in any part of Nigeria because there was no democracy!

One can only imagine how many more Nigerians are lying in the name of Sharia to get refugee status in European countries. Their cases appear to have been helped by the high-profile international media coverage that the Safiya Hussaini and Amina Lawal trials attracted. Anybody who says he or she has been condemned to death by stoning by a Nigerian Sharia court is now believed—or so it seems.

I think this is another sophisticated mutation of 419 scams. I wager that the next issue Nigerians seeking asylum in European countries will exploit is homosexuality. They will claim to be homosexuals who are being persecuted and threatened with death because of their “sexual orientation.” That will appeal to the sentiments of Westerners to no end. Homosexuality is now a “human rights” issue in the West, and the “plight” of African homosexuals is top on the agenda of the powerful Western gay lobby.

7 comments:

Najeebullah said...

Dr. Farook, what you have heard is a mere tip of iceberg on tissue of lies our country men and women are ditching out in order to mislead the border agencies abroad. Kindly have time to watch the famous “Uncle London” YouTube video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fn-PgheaIkU&feature=related) aired by SKY news television.
Najeeb A. A. Gambo
http://thenajeeb.wordpress.com/

Anonymous said...

No excuse for this kind of self-deprecation but there are explanations: when someone in Denmark painted a cartoon of Mohd, innocent people were killed in Nigeria; when a Nigerian won the Miss World contest and the country automatically got the ticket to host the next edition of the competition, innocent souls were lost; immediately after 9/11 some idiots in Nigeria started naming their newborn after Bin Laden; someone’s hand was hacked off in Zamfara for stealing a goat; Boko Haram is out there killing and maiming in the name of ‘death to Western civilisation’, Farooq it is not only Saffiyya Hussien and co., the examples are plenty, they all got worldwide coverage and the situation is only getting worse. This is the reason why the most outlandish stories can sound plausible. The North Country has to take another look at itself.

Anonymous said...

Farook, you won't believe that my cousin completed her NYSC as a doctor in Borno recently. She was forced to wear burka whenever she was outside. I'm not complaining that the state government failed to pay her the allowance promised to medical doctors, afterall most states take pride in denying corpers their rights. She has never been known to dress indecently, but to force her to go that extra mile is what I couldn't understand. You may not understand it too, because my sister who served in another part of Borno two years before my cousin never wore burka even for a day, though she could not wear jeans. For over 10 months, this little girl, working over 10 hours each day and saving precious lifes was not comfortable in her unusual attire. She had two options: 1. continue in her misery 2. leave the national service and return to Enugu. If she exercised option 2, she would be arrested as the Nigerian constitution prescribes, charged for criminal offence and imprisoned for a minimum of two years. If she decided to leave the service and run to Italy, the Italian parliament would doubt her story, because they know Nigeria guarantees freedom of conscience and religion. Fortunately, she managed to complete her service two months before boko haram killed dozens of corp members. With the Nigerian constitution, Ms Omoregbe should be able to live outside Edo state and in any part of Nigeria, but that is practically impossible for her. It is the same constitution that sends young Nigerians to be murdered in cold blood. The Italian parliament will kill themselves with laughter if they hear that not even a single person was questioned (forget about being convicted) for killing corp members, whereas every single person that took part in the London riot has been pencilled down for court hearing. Some of them are already serving their prison sentence. Let's not mention that people kill themselves in tens every week in Jos, just few kilometres from Abuja the home of the constitution, and not one person has been accused of murder. I hope Italian parliament doesn't see this and laugh again.

Farooq A. Kperogi said...

This is a response to the comment that immediately precedes mine. I don't normally respond to anonymous comments, but I won't let your inaccuracies and twisted logic go unchallenged because some unsuspecting people may believe you.

First, if it's indeed true that your cousin was forced to wear a burqa in Borno State (I've spoken with some friends in Borno who told me that your story is implausible) it is truly unfortunate. It is a reprehensible violation of her rights.

But there are many factual inaccuracies in your comment. The first one is your claim that if your cousin had abandoned her youth service in protest against being forced to wear a burqa she would have been arrested, charged with a criminal offense, and jailed for a minimum of 2 years. That's simply false. The NYSC decree (NOT the Nigerian constitution, as you wrongly claim)prescribes a penalty of N2,000 (about $12) or a 12-month jail term for any eligible Nigerian "who refuses to make himself available for service in the service corps continuously...". Read the full text of the decree here: http://www.nysczamfara.org/nyscdecree.pdf. However, in reality, no one ever gets jailed or fined for abandoning the national youth service in Nigeria. I know several people who abandoned the service midstream without any consequence to them. In fact, there is no record, as far as I know, of anyone who has been jailed for refusing to serve or for deserting service midway. The worst that can happen is that the deserter may never get a job with the federal, state, or local governments in Nigeria. And that's only if such a person has no connection in high places.

Many high-profile figures in Nigeria dodged the national youth service. So you were wrong to claim that your cousin could have been jailed for two years if she left the youth service in protest.

Second, Boko Haram didn't kill corps members in Borno--or anywhere; it was a bunch of murderous religious fanatics in Bauchi State who did that. They were political thugs who were protesting the outcome of the last presidential election, which they claimed was rigged in favor of Goodluck Jonathan with the help of youth corps members who served as electoral officers. This was a soul-depressingly barbarous and condemnable act that I wrote to denounce when it happened. The incident had nothing to do with Boko Haram, which has now become the boogeyman to blame for every objectionable thing in Nigeria.

After all is said and done, nothing can justify the kind of willful lies and deceit that Kate Omoregbe is spinning in Italy.

bello said...

I DON'T BELIEVE ANYBODY CAN BE FORCED TO WEAR BURQA IN BORNO STATE OR ANY PART OF NIGERIA BECAUSE EVEN THE INDIGENTS OF THE STATE DOESN'T WEAR IT.BURQA IS NOT A COMMON DRESS AMONG THE MUSLIMS OF NORTHERN NIGERIA. HIJAB IS DIFFERENT FROM BURQA YOU KNOW.

Anonymous said...

Dear Farooq,

I have enjoyed many of your articles, especially at NigeriaVillageSquare. And now that I'm need of the direct e-mail contact of the editor-in-chief/owner/site-moderator of the aforementioned platform (NVS) I thought I should seek your help.

Many thanks in advance for your charitable understanding and help.

Regards,
John

Farooq A. Kperogi said...

Thank you. Send me an email at farooqkperogi at gmail.com and I will share Philip Adekunle's email address with you.