Why did immigration take so long to verify Nigerian student’s status, asks DAP MP

Nigerian postgraduate student Orhions Ewansiha Thomas died five days after being detained by the Immigration Department. (Facebook pic)

PETALING JAYA: A DAP MP has hit out at the Immigration Department over the delay in verifying with a local university the status of a Nigerian student who died at a detention centre on Tuesday.

Kasthuri Patto said that Orhions Ewansiha Thomas was detained on July 4 and died five days later.

The Batu Kawan MP said that period could have been used to contact the university to determine and certify the validity of his travel documents.

“The million-dollar question here is why the Immigration Department took five days to ascertain that Thomas was indeed a Limkokwing University student?”

She said in a statement that a “simple phone call, an email” or even a visit by an immigration officer could have facilitated his release earlier.

Kasthuri also took issue with the department for saying it was going to take two weeks to verify Thomas’s documents and details of his college records.

“Two weeks to do this? It is quite inconceivable, especially since a university like Limkokwing would have all these records online, instead of having to go through thousands of files manually, like in the old days.”

Kasthuri, who is a member of the Parliamentary Special Select Committee on Rights and Gender Equality, said if the Immigration Department had contacted the university directly, it would have rendered assistance immediately in this case.

Earlier today, the Immigration Department said Thomas died on July 9 after he was arrested along with 19 others during a raid at the Desa Aman Puri Apartment in Kepong, Selangor.

The PhD student’s death triggered a protest outside the Nigerian High Commission along Jalan Ampang here yesterday.

Kasthuri went on to say that while the Immigration Department claimed there was no breach in its standard operating procedures in Thomas’s detention, a proper review of the SOP was needed.