Fifty-six-year-old Nigerian Don Obialla was fined a total of EC$2,000 Friday when he appeared before the Serious Offences Court in Kingstown, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, on charges of breaching immigration regulations.
Obialla was fined EC$1,000 for entering the country without a passport at Barrouallie on Nov. 13, 2014, knowing he was a prohibited immigrant. He was also fined EC$1,000 for wilfully allowing himself to land at Barrouallie as a prohibited immigrant on Nov. 13, 2014.
The Nigerian man pleaded guilty to both charges.
Police told the court Friday that on Dec. 3, 2014, around 7 p.m., officers from the Special Patrol Unit who were on duty in the Fountain area, went to the home of Roy Fredericks at neighbouring Belair to execute a search warrant. They met Obialla there and they questioned him. He gave another name and said he was from Ivory Coast. He told police he came here by boat but he did not inform immigration.
Police said Obialla was taken to capital Kingstown and was subsequently questioned by immigration officer Dudley Hackshaw. He then gave his name as Don Obialla of Nigeria. He claimed he came by boat but when checks were made there was no record of him entering the State at any of the ports of entry.
He was arrested and charged.
The defendant’s lawyer, Grant Connell, said the prosecution’s information was correct except where his client gave authorities wrong name. He said his client came to the Caribbean and was in St. Lucia so he came across to see St. Vincent.
Connel said his client is Nigerian and all efforts can be made to secure the necessary documents to prove his nationality. He said his client hopes to visit these shores again once his documentation is in order.
Connell said Nigerians are more than welcomed here but he would like them to check-in at the necessary ports of entry. He said his client was remorseful for his actions.
Prosecutor corporal Gideon Black told the court that persons cannot be welcomed here unless they have the necessary visa or proper travel documents.
Obialla was ordered to pay the fines forthwith or spend three months in prison in default of payment.
Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne-Matthias made an order that he be removed from country upon paying the fines or on completion of the prison sentence.
When the sitting of the court was adjourned Friday, Obialla was still in custody.