Thursday 17 March 2022

Thought Picnic: The potential ransom of dual-citizenship

The potential ransom of citizenship

The return of British-Iranians Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 43, and Anoosheh Ashoori, 67, to British soil this morning that is so very welcome and heart-warming rings a cautionary tale of familial attachment and affinity that can put people with multinational citizenship in peril and jeopardy. [BBC News: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori back with families]

It was a sad development that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Mr Ashoori became pawns of international diplomacy where Iran was ready to persecute people of other nationalities who returned home to see family with trumped-up charges of espionage or insurrection in order to gain leverage in negotiations that in no way concerned the victims.

In the end, the release of these two people was obtained for the UK ensuring moneys to the tune of over £400 million owed Iran from the 1970s was paid back. I would not think of the interest, but that is a princely sum.

In things outside our control

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s situation was not made any easier by the gormless idiocy of the then Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, who at a House of Commons hearing suggested her activities in Iran were not altogether altruistic and that was used in another trial to turn the screws and incarcerate her for more time.

Then I think of many of us with dual or more citizenships who have close families in lands where freedoms, liberties, and expression are monitored, curtailed, or prosecuted. The apparent bounty that seems to hang on our heads when the malevolent either of state or private agency determine that they exact a price out of denying us our freedom by any means.

Much as I have family in Nigeria and many contemporaries do visit with ease, I do not have some rosy view of bliss, security, or safety, if I ever ventured there, despite the many assurances I have received from too many to mention.

I know how I feel

I left the country over 31 years ago, somewhat imperilled and I am not convinced that some of that past as well as the very present including the intervening years where my being abroad keeps out of the ambit of unguarded retribution does not present a clear and present danger to my wellbeing if I visit under any guise.

Besides, those who could almost pride themselves on being quite conversant with the Nigerian ways have quite spectacularly fallen for the wiles and scams that certain desperate can wreak on us and our resources. I have taken the stance that I am not comfortable with visiting Nigeria, and it is unnecessary to burden myself with the angst of attempting to override my deepest premonitions.

It might well be that there is nothing to my feelings than irrationality, I can live with that and the only reason Nigeria features in my purview is more at the behest of others than of any particular wish or desire of mine. When I consider it took almost 25 years for me to set foot on African soil with an official visit to South Africa in May 2015, I think I have a good idea of where my home is, and where next I am thinking of setting up home. It is not in Nigeria and that is a settled matter. Thank you.

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