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Nigerian student feels he was stereotyped by bank

Nigerian student feels he was stereotyped by bank


Nigerian Medical student Uyi Great Osunde, who was cleared of deception charges last week, feels that he was stereotyped by the Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank) and the police and had he been white, he would have been treated differently.

Despite this, he does not think of St Vincent and the Grenadines as a bad place and will {{more}}return here for visits in the future if he can.

Osunde, who was detained at the ET Joshua Airport on December 17 and charged with deceiving Scotiabank out of EC$10,000 cash, had his charges dropped by Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Colin Williams last week after the bank issued a statement saying that they had made a mistake and later found the money during a forensic audit.

Speaking to the media after the charges were officially dropped at the Serious Offences Court last Tuesday, Osunde, who has been in the country for the last two years attending the American University of St Vincent, said that he was extremely happy about the way things have turned out.

“I thank God that it all went in my favour and the truth has come out. I won’t really think badly about St Vincent because of what Scotiabank did. I have been here for nearly two years now and up until now I don’t think I actually had a bad experience,” said the young man from Lagos.

However, Osunde said that he feels extremely embarrassed and emotionally and psychologically distraught, having been detained here since December 17, 2015, with a charge he was innocent of hanging over his head.

“At one point, the police were forcing me to say I took the money and that I did this and I should plead guilty. Even when I was charged, they were telling me to plead guilty, so the whole thing can end and they could return the money. Officer Timm, she specifically told me to take the heat and say I did it, which was very bad,” Osunde recalled, while standing outside the Serious Offences Court with his friends.

He said that the only reason he deposited the money at the Scotia’s ATM was because he knew that travelling with the money was a bad idea because of security reasons and he thought that after depositing the money, he would have been able to access it right away on his bank card.

“If I had known all this would come up, I would have stuck to keeping my money with me,” said the now relieved young man, who on his day of arrest, was travelling to Trinidad and Tobago, en route to London, then on to his homeland of Nigeria.

He said after his visit home, he planned to leave for the United States to begin his clinical studies.

Osunde said that with his arrest, come huge problems and stress, while his career has been delayed.

“This has wasted my time academically; I don’t know how to explain it, you know when you have a set of friends in the same class and you all saying you going to finish at the same time? This has set me way, way back and psychologically after this is done, I really don’t know how I can get back on track. I have not been studying and I don’t know how I can study under these circumstances and it is going to take me much time to regain myself.

“I was supposed to be in school in the USA for the first week in January, but for now I don’t really know when I am going to start. It is really going to take time to regain the things I’ve lost, because psychologically right now, I’m still not stable,” stressed Osunde.

He said that his passport has expired and he is stuck here until he gets it renewed. Also, depending on what the bank does, he will know how to proceed.

“…Seeing what they have done, they have to come up first of all with an apology and make sure it is known to the public what they did and what their mistake was. What they do is going to determine my next line of action,” noted Osunde, who was pursuing medicine with the option of becoming a surgeon.

“I sincerely hope that this would not affect my future in medicine. My parents are traumatized. When my dad heard the story, he collapsed at the airport, as he was travelling to the USA. His business trip suffered and he was taken to the hospital, as he suffered high blood pressure. Mom has not been the same since.”

Osunde said his father, who is an employee at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) could have died, while he is of the opinion that if he were a Caucasian, he would not have been profiled in the manner he was.

“To be sincere, the bank stereotyped me. If I was a white person, I don’t think that I would have been treated the way I was. Maybe I would have been stopped and told about the misunderstanding and asked to wait. I don’t think that I would have been arrested if I was a white person.

“I do not think that anybody who comes to Nigeria would have been treated like this.

“I feel it took too long to free me, because what they came out with is that they conducted a forensic audit and that should have been done in the first place before the whole drama. They claiming that the money was stuck in the ATM, but at the end of that same day, they emptied the ATM, so it doesn’t make any sense,” complained Osunde.

The relieved young man said that he would like to thank his friends for sticking by him throughout his ordeal and he would not like to totally abandon this island.

“I will like to visit because my school is here and I can’t say because of what they did I should abandon every link to the school.

“To my friends, it’s one of the best things to know that when something like this happens, they can say you didn’t do it and they support you. As God would have it, I have friends who know me well; they supported me through every step of the way and I thank them very well,” Osunde concluded. (LC)