The two Nigerian students who said that Croatian police drove them to Bosnia thinking they were migrants had proper visas for Croatia which clearly said they were participating in a competition.
Abia Uchenna Alexandro and Eboh Kenneth Chinedu, both 18 years old, represented the Federal University of Technology Owerri at the 5th World InterUniversities Championships between November 13 and 17 of November in Pula, Croatia. Their visas were valid between November 12 and December 3.
They told the Zurnal web magazine that Croatian police officers put them in a van and took them and several other people, most likely migrants, to the border and expelled them to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“They said, if I don’t move, when they pushed me close to the bush, they kicked me with their leg, (they said) if I do not move, they will shoot me,” Chinedu said, adding that he was forced to sign something and that he still does not know what it was.
He said he told the officers that he is in Croatia legally and asked them to explain to him what is going on.
“They said: no, no, no, you go to Bosnia, you are from Bosnia! I’m a black man, how can I be from Bosnia?” he said.
Croatia’s Interior Ministry denied this happened, saying the students had checked out of the hostel in Zagreb and took their passports with them. After that, they simply disappeared, according to Croatian authorities.
However, the passports which confirmed their identities were sent to Bosnia via mail, from Croatia.
After spending several days at the migrant camp Miral, near the northwestern town of Velika Kladusa, the students were sent to an immigration centre in Sarajevo.
“They have passports which arrived from Zagreb where it can be seen that they had visas issued by the Republic of Croatia and we will submit a request to Croatia to accept them according to readmission procedures after the matter is entirely processed,” said Slobodan Ujic, the head of Bosnia’s Service for Foreigner’s Affairs.
“It is evident that they came from the territory of Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia is obligated to accept them according to a bilateral agreement,” he added.
Ujic said that the students told his institution that they crossed into the territory of Velika Kladusa in the middle of the night in a van used by border police in Croatia.
“These are their statements, we don’t have proof of that. When we gather all the facts, then we will analyse them and see if there is a basis for readmission,” he said.