A Nigerian-American simply identified as Tunde has alleged that he was physically and sexually assaulted by border police officers in Cape Verde for reasons unknown to him.
The man said he had arrived in Santiago for a two-day sight-seeing tour of the island of Santiago but that despite having proof of a confirmed hotel reservation, confirmed return flight ticket, and evidence of $500 in cash plus $5,000 in credit cards, he was denied entry into the country without being offered an explanation.
According to him, he was ordered to be held at the Nelson Mandela International Airport till the following day for a return flight while he was being coerced several times to sign a document in a language he did not fully understand.
He said the police had told him his release was contingent upon signing and that he would be held indefinitely if he failed to do so.
He said as one living with asthma and inflammatory bowel disease, he feared his dietary needs might not be met and had sought consular assistance from the United States consulate in Praia.
Tunde said his request was turned down as the police said his US passport listed his place of birth as Nigeria.
Tunde said he was kept in detention till the following day and when he repeated the request, it attracted the fury of the custodial agent on duty who assaulted him physically and sexually alongside a security man who was with a cudgel.
He said he could count 61 individual blows of the cudgel on him in addition to the physical and sexual assault of the Cape Verde border police officer who rammed his head into a wall.
The assault on him, he claimed, caused him to be hospitalised for days at the Hospital Agostinho Neto on request of the airport medical team.
He wrote, “I am a US citizen with passport number XXX XXX XXX, and I’m seeking consular assistance for an illegal physical and sexual assault I suffered at the hands of Cabo Verde (also Cape Verde) border police. This assault occurred during the night of January 4th/5th, 2021.
“Here is a condensed chronology of that incident: I arrived at or around 12:15 pm on Monday, 4th January, 2021 at the Nelson Mandela International Airport in Santiago on Air Senegal Flight HC 207. I had arrived for a planned 2-day sight-seeing tour of the island of Santiago. In spite of producing a confirmed hotel reservation, a confirmed return flight, and evidence of $500 in cash plus $5,000 in credit cards, I was ultimately denied entry. No justification for this denial of entry was ever communicated to me; not verbally or in writing.
“I was ordered to be held at the airport till the following day for a return flight. Owing to several fears I had about this seemingly arbitrary refusal of entry and detention, I did not believe the Cabo Verde border police authorities would act in good faith. These were my main fears: I suffer from IBD (Inflammatory bowel diseases) and Asthma and have rather specific dietary needs. It was my view that these health and dietary needs would not be fulfilled in the detention facilities. Ultimately, they were not. I was denied access to my medication which had been taken from me on arrival.
“The Cabo Verde border police had made numerous attempts to coerce me to sign a document in a language I did not fully understand. I was informed that my release was contingent upon signing and that I would be held indefinitely till I signed. On the basis of these fears, I requested consular assistance from the United States consulate in Praia.
“I repeated this request to the custodial Cabo Verde border police at least once every half an hour, but was consistently refused. The oft-repeated reason for refusal of access to consular assistance was that my US passport listed my place of birth as Nigeria. The Cabo Verde border police stated that, for this reason, they did not consider me to be a true US citizen.
“At or around 1:00 AM in the early morning hours of Tuesday, 5th January, I renewed my requests to receive consular assistance. I did this by rapping on the dividing window between the detention area and the police observatory post to get the attention of the Cabo Verde border police on duty.
“In fury at my persistent knocking and repeated requests for consular assistance, the custodial agent summoned a security man with a cudgel and the assault occurred as follows: The Cabo Verde police officer opened the holding area and entered with the cudgel-wielding security officer. Immediately, the security officer began a volley of blows on all parts of my body below the neck.
“At some point, I raised my hands to defend myself, so the Cabo Verde border tripped me up. I fell and then held me down while the cudgel-wielding security officer continued raining blows on me with his cudgel. At some point, the Cabo Verde police officer must have realised/remembered that these attacks were taking place in full view of the security cameras, so he tried to discreetly alert the security guard while dragging me off camera by the foot. At all points during the dragging, the security officer continued to pummel me with his cudgel.
“I cannot be sure if we were now fully off-camera, but at this point, the Cabo Verde border police agent rushed back to close the connecting door through which he had dragged me (I was still being pummelled by the security guard). He had dragged me a distance of about 30 feet. He returned to where he had deposited me, knelt at my level, and then suddenly punched my head into the wall. As I cried out in agony (the security guard was standing over me with his cudgel, I was sitting on the floor very close to the wall, the Cabo Verde police agent was crouched beside me), the security guard laughed.
“The Cabo Verde police agent grabbed a hold of my genitals (due to the dragging, my jeans had been pulled lower, so my genitals were somewhat exposed) and said a few things I did not understand all the while twisting my genitals and making mocking kissing pouts in what I imagined was a routine designed to humiliate. Then he hit me in the head once more, stood up and kicked me, then he and the security agent retreated.
“All in all, I counted at least 61 individual blows of the cudgel in addition to the physical and sexual assault of the Cabo Verde border police. The visible trauma inflicted by the assault was so severe that when the new shift arrived just after 4:00 am, they were concerned enough to seek emergency first aid from the airport medical team. In turn, the airport medical team was concerned enough by the numerous trauma that covered most of the left side of my body that they insisted I be rushed to the hospital. We arrived at the Hospital Agostinho Neto at or around 5:00 am on Tuesday, January 5th.
“The emergency intake conducted X-rays and had to consult an orthopaedic surgeon to prescribe a palliative protocol. I remained at the hospital where I was variously examined until just after 7:00 am when the police asked that I be returned to their custody in preparation for the proceedings to return me on the next flight.
“The trauma inflicted upon me was variously observed by several members of the Cabo Verde border police who appeared surprised and appalled that I had suffered such treatment. I called the US Consulate in Praia in the morning of January 6th and was urged to put this in writing and send across as soon as possible. I have now done this and placed myself and this matter in your competent hands. Please, let me know if I shall be required to furnish further information.”