This write-up is not a criticism of India or the Indian government. It’s just a quick look at the Asylum and Refugee Laws of that Asian country – necessitated by recent events.
Seeking asylum in a different country is as simple as it sounds, the moment you step foot in the country where you’re planning to claim asylum you simply inform the appropriate authorities of your intention and you are automatically entitled to the protection of that country until your asylum claim is determined.
It is a completely different matter if your asylum application is refused but that usually takes months if not years in most cases not days.
Among frequent travelers or Nigerians who live abroad seeking asylum is referred to as ka owo s’oke (raise your hands up). Asylum seeking process is actually that simple, you simply raise your hands up and seek asylum, which automatically guarantees you the protection of that country.
Unfortunately India is not exactly a choice destination for an asylum seeker from any African country because that Asian country, despite having one of the largest refugee population in Southeast Asia, is yet to sign the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees or the 1967 protocol that stipulates the rights and services the host nation must provide refugees.
Seeking asylum in India may not be as straightforward as raising your hands up as soon as you step foot in that country.
Come to think of it, the fact that they have over two million displaced people in their country is probably why they haven’t signed up for the UN convention but that’s another topic for another day.
At present, asylum seekers in India have to register with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).
As expansive as India is, at present there are only a handful of UNHCR offices where foreigners can go and claim asylum, New Delhi and Chennai. There are other centres located in Hyderabad, Jaipoor and Pune.
While it has no formal asylum policy, the Indian government decides on granting asylum on a case to case basis.
As things stand, anyone seeking political asylum from Nigeria is best advised to avoid India.
So if any Nigerian travels to India it was most likely for medical treatment and not to claim asylum because flying all the way to India from Nigeria to claim asylum is not worth it. Even Pakistan and Bangledesh, India’s nearest neighbours are not signatories to the 1951 UN Convention.
Lastly, why would anyone seeking asylum in another country willingly return to his country where he was held in detention?