The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has confirmed that Musa Jack Ngonadi, believed to be the son of a former Nigerian military Head of State (name withheld), is still in its custody awaiting final deportation any moment from now.
Musa Ngonadi, 45, son of a former Nigerian military ruler and late Edith Ike Okongwu, was jailed for 40 years in the US for his involvement with a drug cartel in 1993 at the age of 23.
Following his release, THISDAY maintained a close contact with Virginia Kice, Western Regional Communications Director and spokesperson of ICE, as well as James Schwab, who handles media inquiries for the agency in northern California regarding the fate of Ngonadi and other possible Nigerian ex-convicts after immigrant advocates expressed worry that ex-convicts transfer to ICE might be indicative they would not receive due process as they prepare for their deportation.
The American Civil Liberties Union had on Thursday October 29 written to ICE chief Sarah Saldaña, urging the agency to ensure that inmates entering ICE custody in the current release wave should get due process, including the opportunity to consult an immigration attorney and contest their removal in court.
However, ICE countered this fear by informing the advocates that such transfer of ex-convicts to its custody was a routine occurrence.
In a statement, ICE said it would ensure all immigrants subject to deportation “receive the full process they are due while in removal proceedings and ICE custody,” including access to phones to contact attorneys, consulates and legal aid groups.
THISDAY inquired from Kice why Ngonadi, who was released November 2 from Taft Federal Correctional Institution (Taft Correctional Facility Bakersfield California), had to be moved to ICE and not among the 763 of the foreign inmates who could be deported within days.
In her response, Kice said: “Mr. Ngonadi was transferred to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody November 2 following his release from the Bureau of Prisons facility in Taft, California.
“ICE has served Mr. Ngonadi with a final order of removal and he remains in ICE custody while the agency seeks to arrange for his repatriation.”
According to Kice, “In instances such as this where a non-immigrant has an aggravated felony conviction, ICE may issue an administrative order of removal rather than placing the person in formal immigration proceedings.”
She insisted that any questions about the basis for Ngonadi’s release from federal prison should be directed to the Bureau of Prisons.
According to Reuters quoting US Immigration, almost a third of 6,000 federal prisoners scheduled to be freed between Friday October 30 and Tuesday November 3, part of a push to reduce America’s soaring incarceration rate by the Obama administration, would immediately be turned over to U.S. immigration authorities for deportation proceedings.
However Ngonadi who was sentenced for 40 years, having served 22 years, did not fall into this category but was among the 23,000 prisoners who applied for reduced sentences granted by judges according to the US Sentencing Commission.
THISDAY could not reach Ngonadi in his Taft Correction Center address: Musa… 97913-012 #A3D, Taft Correctional Institute P.O.Box 7001, Taft, CA 93268, U.S.A.
He was however quoted by a New Jersey-based weekly African Sun Times published by Dr. Chika Onyeani to have opened a Facebook message through his brother in 2013 in anticipation of his release.
According to his message to Nigerian youths, Ngonadi said crime was not the right way and that they should steer away from it.
Speaking through his brother, African Sun Times quoted him: “To all of Musa’s friends, this is his brother Richard Ike standing in place for him. Musa asked me to set up a Facebook page on his behalf so he could get back in contact with his long lost friends from the past.
“He has been in incarceration for a while now and would love to hear from everybody. Below is the message he gave me to give to you all, from his heart to your heart.”
He continued: “Musa Says…
”My dear beloved friends, brothers and sisters, it is with great joy and utmost humility that I greet you all today in our native tongues by intoning, “Ndi Igbo Kwenu, – Eku Ikale Gbogbo Arawa, – Gasuwa.” I have unfortunately been incommunicado for a number of years from you all… my dear friends, and frankly speaking, it is refreshing and an absolute delight to be back in touch.
“I was grateful, overwhelmed and overjoyed by all your many words of support and encouragement. I took all that was said to heart and it meant and means the world to me. I thank you all profusely from the bottom of my heart!!!
“I noticed that many of you are trying to contact me, you can write me directly at: Musa…. 97913-012 #A3D, Taft Correctional Institute P.O.Box 7001 Taft, CA 93268 U.S.A.
“Nonetheless, I shall be in contact with you all as soon as I can figure out the logistics involved. In a house of bondage, under draconian conditions, I reside. Irrespective, I wish you all the best in all your various endeavours. May the Lord bless and guide you all and your families. Have a wonderful and fantastic day, and please write sometimes.
“Best regards, Musa Jack…”