General — 05 September 2014 — by Rowland A. Parks
Nigerian man’s report to police led to the discovery of his illegal status in Belize

BELIZE CITY–A Nigerian man who witnessed a crime and decided to report it to police ended up in the custody of the Immigration Department after his passport revealed that he had overstayed his visit to Belize.

Yesterday, Monday, Uche Ochunkwo, 42, an unemployed security guard, was escorted to the Magistrate’s Court and appeared before Magistrate Dale Cayetano, to be arraigned on an immigration offense of “failure to comply with the terms of a visitor’s permit.”

The arraignment, however, had to be delayed until today, because the court had to provide an interpreter for Ochunkwo, who was further remanded into custody after he pretended in court that he did not understand the English language when Magistrate Cayetano asked him if he understood the charge he had just read to him.

Magistrate Cayetano had already gotten off the bench when Ochunkwo decided to “fess up” and proclaimed: “Yes, I understand the charge. I am guilty, I am guilty.”

Cayetano fined Ochunkwo $1,000 plus $5 cost of court, which, under the law, he was required to pay forthwith; if he defaults in payment, he has to spend one year in prison.

Cayetano, however, also signed the Immigration Department’s requested removal order to have Ochunkwo deported from Belize back to his native Nigeria immediately.

According to the report to police, Ochunkwo saw someone who used to reside at the building where he lived attempting to use a key that he did not return when he had moved out, to enter the room of another person.

At the police station, however, Ochunkwo was asked to produce his identification and he presented the police with his Nigerian passport. A check inside his passport, however, revealed that Ochunkwo had entered Belize through the Philip Goldson International Airport on April 25, 2010. Ochunkwo had applied for and gotten an extension to his permit to remain in Belize until July 20, 2011.

Since that last extension to his visitor’s permit, however, Ochunkwo had not applied for any other extension.

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