One Month One Trouble For Stateless Professor Who Renounced Nigerian Citizenship In S/Africa

By Zam Luka

In February 2021, Edwin Ijeoma, consummate academic and research specialist at South Africa’s University of Fort Hare, became an internet sensation in Nigeria: he was facing charges for, among other things, allegedly obtaining South African citizenship by fraud, after renouncing Nigeria. South Africa therefore revoked his citizenship.

In March, the PhD was suspended from his professorial job at the university over the scandal—he later resigned, becoming both jobless and stateless.  But his travails would only compound going forward. Ijeoma, 55, was arrested in April after being declared a fugitive in March. Upon his arrest, he was further charged for “using a car without the consent of the owner.” The vehicle belonged to the university; thus, he was also accused of “stealing” the car.

Embattled Edwin Ijeoma

For a charge sheet that already included admission fraud, citizenship fraud, and bigamy for a jobless and stateless man, being arrested as a fugitive who stole a car was pure village people calamity in Nigerian parlance. Yesterday, however (May 12, 2021), he was released on a R5,000 bail at Zwelitsha Magistrate’s Court, according to South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). He will return to court on 18 June, said NPA spokesperson Anelisa Ngcakani.

“Ijeoma is also the subject of a Hawks investigation, in connection with a case of fraud, worth R5 million,” reported a South African outlet. Ijeoma had arrived South Africa from Nigeria in 1998 on a student visa to study at the University of Pretoria, earning a PhD in Economics in 2003. Having come to like Mandela’s country, he opted to stay back, taking the pathway of naturalization.

Except that to naturalize in South Africa, he would have to renounce his Nigerian citizenship. His naturalization had relied on his marriage to a South African woman and he grew in his career, leading projects in the institution. Until recently, he was head of the institution’s school of public administration.

Two years after, he divorced his South African wife reportedly over the couple’s inability to have a child. He was then joined in SA by a Nigerian woman, Anne Ijeoma. South Africa’s Home Affairs officials were tipped off that he had committed bigamy by marrying the SA woman while being married in Nigeria. In her application for permanent residence in SA, Edwin’s wife Ijeoma had attached a copy of her 1993 marriage to him in Nigeria. Consequently, South Africa revoked his citizenship and rendered him an undesirable inhabitant of the country. Having previously renounced his Nigerian citizenship, Edwin has nowhere else to go. He has also been under suspension by his university where he was accused of illegally registering a student for an honours degree in public administration when she was not entitled to register for postgraduate studies.

Source: NigeriaAbroad

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