For Daring To Defend Himself Against Racist Attacks, Nigerian Student Faces Life Imprisonment In Ukraine

 5 November 2011 will forever remain evergreen in the heart of Olaolu Sunkanmi Femi a Nigerian student studying in Ukraine. On that unfortunate day, Olaolu and his yet to be identified Nigerian friend (also a student) were physically molested and attacked in front of their apartment by a gang of Ukrainian racists.

Eye witness accounts say Olaolu and his friend who were hurled to the ground and racially abused all this while, was able to get up and grab hold of a piece of glass from a broken bottle to use in self-defense. According to a Nigerian Embassy staff in Ukraine who is aware of the case said “it was while he was defending himself that police arrived at the scene and the Nigerian was subsequently arrested and charged with attempted murder of five people thus becoming an accused in a case that has gone on to be one of the most celebrated in Ukraine”.

Olaolu Sunkanmi Femi Behind Bars

Olaolu has since been remanded in detention by the Ukrainian police who refused to take the case to court citing unavailability of the police to get an interpreter for him. However, Nigerian students in the Ukraine are not taking this lying low as they have been protesting his arrest calling it an act of racism. The Nigerian students’ community in Ukraine under the leadership of Osarumen David-Izevbokun, a Phd student in international relations has been working tirelessly to ensure justice for the Nigerian by organizing protests as well as drawing the attention of the human rights groups in Ukraine to the plight of Femi who has spent almost seven months in jail without trial.

Olaolu And Ukrainian Police Officers

David-Izevbokun told African Outlook that he alongside other Nigerian students in conjunctions with some members of the Ukrainian human right groups staged a protest on April, 9 outside the Leninsky District Court in Luhanski demanding the release of Olasunkanmi.

The actions, according to David-Izevbokun has put the Ukraine police on the spot as the case came up for hearing on May 3. “We had a lot of media coverage on the protest ” David-Izevbokun said, noting that he was sure the attention given the case may have prompted the May 3 court appearance of the suspect.

Osarumen David-Izevbokun

David-Izevbokun who was at the May 3, court hearing told African Outlook that Olasunkanmi appeared depressed when he showed up in court.

In almost typical fashion, the Nigerian embassy sent a representative to visit Olasunkanmi in jail once and thereafter, never returned.

But an embassy spokesperson who pleaded anonymity (because he is not authorized to comment on the case) told African Outlook that the Nigerian consulate had not abandoned the Nigerian to his fate “We are in torch with the Ukrainian authority and we have been doing everything to ensure the boy is released unconditionally using diplomatic channel” he said, adding that the Olasunkanmi was being charged for attempted murder, an offense which under Ukrainian law is not bailable.

 

“There are ways in which we handle cases like this so that we would not appear to be hostile or criticizing our host countries’ laws” the embassy staff said while assuring that he was confident Olasunkanmi would be released soon.

When asked if the embassy has been able to secure the service of an attorney for the Nigerian student, the embassy staff said: “It is not within our mandate to pay for attorney’s fees for any Nigerian in distress, you may check this out with other Nigerian embassies abroad, but we have been working with the Nigerian community leaders here to ensure that we do everything within our means to help Olasunkanmi in time of his need” the staff added hinting that the representative of the embassy was at the May 3 hearing.

This is one case too many of Nigerians facing jail terms in various European countries over phantom allegations and even more disheartening is the role of the Nigerian government via its embassies in such countries. Please, if you can, visit the “Free Olaolu” page on facebook and show your support at facebook.com/FreeOlaolu

13 Comments

  • so why haven’t we heard anything before now about this case. we do not have a functional government and so we can not have functional embassies or ambassaors who will work. what is the basis on which these ambassadors are chosen? i just pity the poor boy and pray to God to send him help cuz as it is, we can’t help anyhow. Just for the human right groups to know about this and lend a helping hand.

  • Poor boy,its not your fault,its due to inability of your leaders to put your country in order that caused you this inhuman treatment.if the criminals we have as our leaders have utilized our resources well,you will have no reason to go to Ukrain and be molested this way.

    • @ Obi I agree with you, and if our educational sector and other sectors were of standard. What is the point of going to study outside the country.

  • Can God forgive our satanic govt? If the rogues in govt of dis nation can atleast mak Nigeria better for all, what are we lookng 4 in d foreign countries? They cant even come 2 d aid of d poor man bt they are busy embezzling our money. God wil judge them all one day. Let Nigerian lawyer activist like Femi Falana etc & Nigeria in diaspora come to d aid of dis man b/cos his family may nt be financially ok d reason why he thought he should go for a greener pasture. My earnest prayer 4 him is dat God will remember him and deliver him like He delivered d Isrealites in Egypt IJN.

  • Why do we attack our govt over the issues that we all know requires diplomacy? It shows so many of our ppl are irresponsible, ignorant, and callous. We dnt hv to deride our leaders on social networks and hope that others will respect us as Nigerians. May be it’s our comments n behaviour that makes us suffer in foreign lands? I dnt here other nationals abuse their leaders dis way, so we hv to stop. Let ur comments build n not destroy. As for our brother in trouble, I pray God to intervene is his case and that d govt wil act fast n be tough wit countries that abuse our citizens out there.

    • You pray for God to intervene and you are condemning people that insists that the government should do the right thing. Is God going to come down Himself to intervene? And yes, other countries that are not satisfied with their leaders criticize them and even cause a regime change, think Egypt, think Tunisia, think Putin in Russia.

  • @ufan may be ua govt apologies and benefiting in a way, if govt is not 2 be blame, then may be God, pls be reasonable and cal a cpade a spade. am sorry 4 this country.

  • Ukraine Government should be Rational and sensible enough in their dispositions. What other mechanisms do they expect the boy to employ in order to defend himself?, Why is Ukraine government in support of Racism?
    All i demand is quick release of the helpless boy and Subsequent Justice.

  • Ukraine and Russia are both racist country no wonder Mario Balotelli refused to initially play at the Euro 2012 games. I have friends that studied in Russia and when they came back home they always narrated their ordeals in the hands of the racist, thus forcing them to move around in group of 5-8 unless they are not safe. The Nigerian government should do something about this. If the educational sector is good students won’t want to go outside in search of more knowledge. Nigeria wake up from your slumber

  • I feel so sad d only crime dis young ,an committed ws to be born in a shame of a nation lik Nigeria,off cos he has bin abandoned can u imagine 4 gud sevn mnths?whr is d stupid ambassador probably enjoyin himslf wit ukranian girls in a posh hotel if it ws a former govnor or senator or evn Rep member wil it hv gone so long?@ufan u mst be vry foolish 4 sayin wat u said mayb it shud hv bin ur broda or relative in dat condition 4 u to open ur mouth nd say rubbish,useless govt,Sevn mnths fa,dis guy has sufferd Ooh God save us frm dis self centered,draconian beings calld leaders plsss,help Olaolu lord plsss

  • D story is one sided. D boy wants 2 defend himself or was defending himself. D question now: is how was he doing dat? Until dis question is fully answered, our comments and judgments will definitely be out of place. U don’t use a hammer 2 kill a mosquito on friends back neither do u defend urself wit a dangerous object against a bare handed opponent. So, let’s not just start criticizing d gov’t of our dear nation nor d Ukrainain authorities. Things ought 2 be done d right way. If in Nigeria everytin goes, we should not be angry if it’s not so in oda nations. So, let dis reporter give us d full gist and den we’ll go from dia

  • Nigerian Govt has no regard for anything except their own pockets. Why hasn’t this matter been brought up long ago. Nigerian Govt is incapable of anything except corrupt practices. God will punish dem severly even their generation. All these are the reasons the Ukrainian Govt has no regard for our rubbish Nigerian Govt.. They should Better find a way of getting d poor boy out of there else all of them (our govt and embassy officers) will receive their judgement from God and their children will suffer worse fate.

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