19.11.2022 Featured Nigerian Lady Held in UAE Custody for ‘Falling Sick’

Published 19th Nov, 2022

By Joseph Adeiye

Bunmi Rufai, a Nigerian student in the United Kingdom, has narrated to FIJ how the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs remained silent as United Arab Emirates authorities tortured Funmilayo Rufai, her sick sister.

Al Maqam Police detained Funmilayo, who worked for the International Grand Mart in Al Ain, immediately after she called for medical aid on October 10.

“Funmilayo, my sister, had been having sleepless nights for days. She told me how stressed and weak she had been feeling recently. So, she became very ill on October 10 and a coworker decided to look after her until they called an ambulance,” Bunmi told FIJ on Saturday.

“To their surprise, the police came with the ambulance and took her to a police station first. My sister later told me that the police tried to force her to sign a document. She could not do so because she did not understand Arabic.”

“Your petition is a consular matter,” NiDCOM told Bunmi

Bunmi told FIJ that Funmilayo later revealed that the police tortured her and chained her legs, and the International Grand Mart failed to intervene or help her.

When FIJ reached out to the human resources officer at the International Grand Mart, there was no response. The company’s official received and read FIJ’s message but refused to respond.

Not only the International Grand Mart was silent. Bunmi told FIJ that Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) received a mail from her on October 17 but failed to act.

According to an email correspondence FIJ obtained, the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) forwarded a complaint to the MFA.

Bunmi’s mail to the Nigeria Mission in UAE after contacting NiDCOM on October 17

“The last time I spoke with her, she said that her leg was still chained. She spent some days in police detention before she was taken to the hospital. The police chained her leg even when she was in the hospital. They refused to let anyone see her in the hospital and she doesn’t even have access to her phone,” Bunmi told FIJ.

“My sister told me that they wanted to deport her. What for? We don’t know. She was only sick; she did not break any law. We have tried to reach all the authorities involved but we are not receiving the support we need. International Grand Mart told us that there was nothing they could do to help us.”

NiDCOM mail informing Bunmi that the Nigerian Mission in Dubai was ‘on the issue’

The Nigerian Mission in Dubai responded to Bunmi’s mail with a report, but has not met Funmilayo.

Nigerian mission’s response

Funmilayo has been discharged from the hospital, but she remains in police custody.

FIJ sent mails to the MFA and the Nigerian embassy in the United Arab Emirates. The MFA is closed for the weekend and the embassy had not sent a response at press time.

Published 19th Nov, 2022

By Joseph Adeiye


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