A case for the French Embassy in Nigeria

Written by David Udo Anwana

My name is David Udo Anwana, I am writing to request for a legal assistance for a case between me and the French Embassy that has been lingering in the karu magistrate court in Nasarawa state Nigeria, since 22nd of October 2007 till date.

I am a former staff of the French Embassy; I worked with them from 3rd of November 1997 till the date of my resignation on 30th of March 2007. (From Lagos and Later transferred to Abuja in November 2000).

I decided to resign from my appointment with the French Embassy due to the ill treatment I received for being a Nigerian and a black; on many occasions I was insulted and even called a black slave and was once called a kidnapper by the former 1st Counselor of the French Embassy, Mr. Dominique Raoux-Cassin, Time won’t permit me to relate all the ordeal I went through while working with the French Embassy.

I even wrote the syndicate CFDT-MAE in France explaining my ordeal, before I decided to resign, and nothing was ever done, a copy of translated version of that letter dated 15th February 2009. When I got the job with the French embassy in Nov. 2007,this was after I was asked to submit my resignation letter to Cameroon airlines in Lagos where I worked for four years , I was given a contract when to sign I read through the contract and was never for once told that if I serve the French Embassy in Nigeria and decided to resign from my job voluntarily I won’t be paid my entitlement for the period I served.

It was a surprised to me, when I was told the French government don’t pay gratuities to its staff, it was a surprise not only to me, to the entire members of locally employed staff.

After my resignation, I wrote to the French Ambassador requesting for my entitlement and my pension which was not remitted to the P.F.A. of my choice from 2004 – 2007 and kept at the custody of the French embassy till june 2008 , when it was finally remitted ,with a miscalculation.

I needed my money in order to look after my family of 4 kids and my wife, who was pregnant as at the moment I left the French Embassy, and to also settle my rent in Abuja and also start a small business to be able to sustain my family.

Some few months later, I got a response from the French Ambassador telling me that the French Embassy don’t pay gratuities to its staff, this was rather strange to me, since it has always been paid to former staff who also resigned voluntarily or for any other reason from the French Embassy.

Sir, the hardship and difficulty this situation put me and my family specially my wife who was expecting a baby, and my landlord also served me a quit notice at that moment, since my house rent was overdue and all my children were driven away from school, I could really not bear the whole situation any longer.

I then requested for the service of a lawyer, he wrote the French Embassy and they never responded and he personally went to the French Embassy to deliver a letter to the French Ambassador, he was rejected at the gate, when this news got to me I was really disturbed and frustrated and could not control the situation any longer, I was forced out of frustration to take the law into my hands by going to the French Embassy and cause some damages on two of their vehicles and was taken to Asokoro Police Station, this incident occurred on the 16th of October, 2007, while my wife was at the Asokoro General Hospital in the labour room and she put to birth on that same day being assisted by some friends and neighbors. I was koboless, frustrated, pushed to the extreme and acted out of frustration, I spent 7 days in the cell bitten mercilessly by the cell mates and was taken to the Magistrate Court on the 22nd of October 2007 and was bail out by two of my friends.

Since then I have been going to the Magistrate Court till date as regard the same case. I was given the chance to speak only twice, the police prosecutor handling the case kept on adjourning the case, for reason best known to him till date, I couldn’t appear once because my daughter was very sick I had to take her for treatment and the date escaped my memory, few days after I receive a call from one Mr. Danladi the prosecutor aid, to meet him at Kerra hotel in Mararaba, that he has a message for me, I had to go with some friends of mine getting at the spot, some 20 minutes later, i saw the police prosecutor coming in and we greeted each other and he asked me why I failed to appear in Court, I explain to him what happened, this was around 10pm in the night, and he then brought out a warrant of arrest, and said he is here to arrest me, I should follow him to Asokoro station or else he will deal with me, I gave him the full respect due to him, and pleaded with him to kindly follow me to my house, since I didn’t tell any of my family members where I was going, so when they are informed then I will go with him, he insisted that we should go from there, I then told him, it won’t be possible for me to follow him if my family is not informed, I asked him when is the case adjourned to, he said the following day, I told him, ok, tomorrow I will appear in Court.

His aid Mr. Danladi then approached me and said, I should discuss with his boss and settled him or else he will not allow me to go home, that the matter is very serious ,that they were sent by the DPO Asokoro police station to come and arrest me. I told him I can’t do give money to his boss as far as this matter is concerned, and moreover I don’t have the money, I have been without a job from March 2007, where does he expect me to take money from.

I pleaded with him to allow me go home, this pleading took us to about 11pm in the night, which I stood on my decision to first go home and inform my family, we dragged on that until my friends later told me that we should give them transport money for the fuel they burn in coming to Mararaba, since they came with bike. A sum of N2000 was given to Mr. Danladi and they finally left and I left with my friends to my house.

The next day I appeared in court, just for this same prosecutor who came to arrest me the previous day told the magistrate that he is on special duty and that the matter should be adjourned to another time and told the magistrate that I ran away, they have been looking for me severally and they arrested me yesterday and took me to their station and that they brought me straight from the cell on that day, I was shocked to hear such statement, but was not given a single minute to say a word, and suddenly I was asked to provide two guarantors since I jumped bail which I did, since then, the prosecutor aid have been calling me and asking me to meet him at odd hours of the night and at a specific location, I have never accepted to do so, and he has been telling me to cooperate with his boss or else I will regret. I don’t understand what he meant by that.

I had to write the French Embassy, explaining all my ordeal with the police and I have also written them series of letter of apology as regard that incident, in response to one of those letter, I receive this reply from the new Ambassador, a copy of the reply is attached to this letter, the French version and the translated version in english.

Currently I am without a job and my family is undergoing serious hardship and my kids are all at home, I can’t afford to pay their school fees, and my rent is due. I can’t settle it. I can’t afford to pay the service of a lawyer for my defense as regard this case, that is why I write to you sir/madam to request for a legal service and help, to enable me get my freedom and face my small business of teaching French Language and computer to people at home, which has been the only source of income for me and my family, but the incessant adjournment of this case has not allowed me to concentrate on my life, I need your help and I need the help of all good Nigerian and the international community to help resolve this matter.

I will be ready to accept your invitation for further explanation as regard this matter, the case was adjourned till 16th of June 2009 – The French Embassy has sent Mr. Dennis Emmanuel, the MOPOL who was on duty on the 16th Oct. 2007 to come and testify on this matter at the magistrate court, this is well after they might have sent me a letter telling me the French embassy neither any of their agent have ever taken me to any court of law.

I will be most grateful if my request is approved. I need your assistance and the assistance of everybody.

The French Embassy expatriate have on many occasion told us the local staff, specially the Nigerians, that there is no law in our country Nigeria, that we can’t do them anything and that we don’t have the money to get a lawyer, I am not the only one who must have experienced such, so many others were just sack for no just reason they are ready to be invited to talk about their own experience. Once you spend 10 years and above, they will look for a way to send you packing, you will be frustrated, insulted, mistreated until you resign, they don’t care because they know you can’t do anything.

They even told us that, are we treated better by your country why do we expect good treatment from them, after all your salary at the French Embassy is better than what your ministers and governors earn. So we should not even complain and that there are many out there waiting for our job, that has resulted to so many staff resigning without being paid, and others have been sack after 28, 15, 10 years of service without any compensation paid to them, putting head of families on untold hardship, it is really sad that such thing are happening in our country and nobody is aware of it.

It is really disheartening and painful and frustrating, I shed tears whenever I remembered all I went through at the Embassy in my own country and nothing is being done in this regard. I think this is this time for the world to know what we went through and what we experienced in the hands of the French expatriate in our own country Nigeria, It is really bad , I also plead to our government to look into this matter, we are really suffering in silence in the hands of the French people at the Embassy here in Nigeria even up till this moment.

They really hate us; they are here only for their own interest not ours.

Sir, I wouldn’t want to be push to the extreme any longer, if in the course of there hardship the police prosecutor who is cooperating with the French Embassy to put me to jail, succeed in doing so, since the prosecutor and his witness , the police inspector who handled the case openly told me they will do , because he even instructed the magistrate handling the case to jail me as this will serve as a deterrent to others, he has an many occasion ask for my financial assistance, personally and via Mr. Danladi, telling me that he is traveling for either marriage, or burial that I should find him some money, I told him I don’t have, this has angered him so much so that he told me I will see.

If he succeed in doing his will and I am put to jail and my children and my wife suffer for no just reason, I don’t believe this will be just, I and my family are suffering unjustly, after I must have spent 10 years of my youthful years only to be told bye bye by the French embassy, no compensation, it is rather very sad, they openly told us that even if you spend 35 years of service or have reached the retirement age, the French government won’t pay you, all you have is your pension , we have asked them to provide document in the Nigerian labor law to back their claim , they have never done so, from 2004 – 2007 my pension contribution was never remitted to any pension fund administrator.

After I wrote them severally asking for my money, my pension money, it was in June 2008 that my IBTC Pension Account was credited with a sum of N112,000 and I wrote the French Ambassador to request for a break down of this money, nobody every care to answer me, my last salary with the French Embassy between 2004, and 2007 was between 400 euro and 430 euro , how did they calculate 7.5% contribution by the employer & 7.5 % contribution by the employee calculated from this amounts to 112,000N only, they even cheated on me on their calculation, we are really helpless in our country, one of those who were sacked unjustly by the French embassy reported his case to the foreign affairs, nothing has ever been done, he spent over 15 years of service and was sacked unjustly without any compensation paid to him.

My question is what do we do, I was frustrated and took the laws into my hands and today the police prosecutor is using this as a mean of getting money from me, he told the magistrate on one of the hearings regarding this case, that he went to the French embassy with a copy of the letter that was sent to me by the French Ambassador to confirm if it was written by the French Ambassador and that he met with the French Ambassador who told him it was fake, I was so shocked and surprise, and wrote the French Ambassador about it, and he never responded. This is a clear evidence of his co-operation with the police prosecutor to cause an untold hardship to me and my family, we are asked to respect the rule of law, does obeying the rule of law give the French Embassy the right to mistreat Nigerians in their own country. I once asked the French Ambassador in one of my letters, if that is the way the Nigerian Embassy in Paris treats the French citizens.

Please you should all help me out this , I need my gratuities be paid to me and the police to allow me have my peace, I will be most grateful to you all.

David UDO A.

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