Antiguan Govt accepts some blame for Antigua Airways migrant fiasco

African refugees at Dr-Lay-Apts-New-Winthropes

LOOP: Antigua and Barbuda has said that it can locate the West Africans, who were brought to the twin islands from Nigeria via chartered Antigua Airways flights recently.

There were reports that some of the Africans are missing and may have sought transport off Antigua to neighbouring countries and the United States.

Immigration officials held discussions with government members yesterday and a note from the meeting said: “The Cabinet was informed that the visitors remaining in Antigua can be located in several small hotels and guest houses across the island. An offer to return them to their country is to be made, though many are likely to choose to stay, it was reported. Some arrangement may likely be made to ensure that their status is legal.”

Information Minister Melford Nicholas told members of the media today that approximately 637 of the 911 Africans remain on the island.

Nicholas said the government is weighing its options to return the Africans to their homeland or make them legal residents.

The question was raised regarding offering protections to the Africans who may seek asylum due to issues in their homeland.

“I don’t know if asylum is being considered at this stage. The question would be if persons have economic difficulties returning to their jurisdiction then the options for the government would be to arrange an aircraft to take them back. Alternately, if they have pleaded hardships and would like to remain in the jurisdiction then that is a consideration that we would look at in terms of what can be done to assimilate them into the population,” he said.

Nicholas says the government takes some responsibility for the situation that has developed but he maintained that having flights between the Caribbean and Africa will have benefits.

The minister noted that there is “no harm done” in keeping some of the West Africans in Antigua as he said many might have skills and knowledge the country could use.

Nicholas expressed his hope that Antigua Airways could resume operations between St John’s and Lagos, Nigeria to connect the Caribbean with Africa.

The Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) halted Antigua Airways’ charter operations last month because it did not comply with regulatory requirements.

The embattled airline had been operating a charter between Antigua and Nigeria on November 1, 2022.

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  1. After all this mess Medford ridiculous is still hoping to resume service between Africa and Antigua? Dont he understand these Africans are just using Antigua as a gateway to USA, Mexico and Canada? And on top of that make them legal??! Now the US will flag Antigua and once again our reputation will be on the line. Incompetent government! We need to stand up as a people!! This is madness!!

    • @Incompetent, Melford ‘Mek It Up As He Go Along’ Nicholas, is only trying to save face by saying that Antigua Airlines is hoping to resume service with Africa.

      In all my years of following politics and politicians, I’ve never come across one that has admitted to their own mistakes … not ah one!!!

  2. Big misunderstanding between Gaston and these African financial backers and that’s because these African money men wasn’t fully aware of this other Antigua Barbuda, that’s where the mix up occurred. When they first look at this scheme they figured getting a route from Africa by bypassing everything straight to Guatemala (Antigua) these refugees will then be able to join this line of other refugees heading to the USA, as a matter of fact contact’s may have already been set up in Guatemala awaiting these people. Some how while on this Europian conference the name Antigua was heard, unaware its a total different Antigua getting together with the Prime Minister was key, introduction was made and knowing Gaston and millionaires without really deep thinking this, he saw this as a great accomplishment and even his other Caribbean Leaders will be shaking his hand in the end as the first PM with this vision. Remembered that first picture Antigua Guatemala airline? that was for real.

  3. It’s clear under the table monetary antics are involved in this bloody fiasco and ANTIGUA & Barbuda “again” makes it itself look in cahoots with criminals.

  4. Just give Gaston the money. He doesn’t care about country only himself and family. And to think many Antiguans see nothing wrong with him and just voted him back in office. The poor people in Pointe and Villa and the non nationals who voted for this man are helping to make Antigua a pariah state and a laughing stock. How I long for a government that puts the country and the people first.

    • Spot on again @DC, the non-nationals and the illegals that were given amnesty, mostly voted for Gaston Browne and the ABLP.

      The autochthonous Antiguans will not forget that we were treated like 3rd class citizens in our own country.


  5. The truth always rises to the top. Speaking the truth is like writing fair,it only comes with practice.You,the Administration lied to us in the beginning. Those visitors were supposed to be rich Africans. Then for reasons unknown to us. That narrative was change to Tourists from Africa. Antigua is a Tourist Destination. However,those Tourists come by Cruise Ships and Airplanes. When their visits are up,they would leave not seek Asylum to stay permanently. The million dollar question is. Why did the Administration lie to us. What were their reasoning for lying to us. Gaston Browne,come clean now. You are the head of this in coming Administration with a 9 to 8 in Parliament. Be aware,it is not when you had a 15 to 2 count. The cards are stacked against you now.One shift and the tide could turn and your backsides could fall hard.You could become THE JOKER.

  6. They want to pass off crookishness as incompetence. It took 4 flights for them to figure something was wrong? Gaston questions how much money can hold in the belly of a plane. The question is how much money can fit in the bellies of 4 planes. Mission accomplished so it’s time for the play dumb. The people know the truth!

  7. I am almost in disbelief that Melford Nicholas, an alumni of AGS is capable of spurting such s**t. Come on, man! It is obvious that you know nothing about what is going on. Just shut up about this already, and when the media ask you anything, just say, “no comment.” Let Gaston Brown, Chet Green, Steadroy Benjamin and Max Fernandez come to the public and settle this thing. The whole thing stinks, man, and nothing that you can say is going to make this go away. I have heard of damage control, but this is beyond ridiculous. There is some mention of Air Piece Airlines? Well check this headline.
    “Air Peace CEO Onyema paid me $20,000 to facilitate $20m fraud “, from And the scandal just gets worst.

    • @Watching:The Owner of Air Peace Nigeria was indicted in the USA. The charges were for forgery and money laundering.

  8. I wholeheartedly agreed with Black-Man’s assertion, I also think that it is proper for Antiguans to stage protests against Gaston and his merry men’s intentional or unintentional involvement with trafficking these socio-migrants and his administration is prepared to cover their disgraceful act by offering them legal status to remain in Antigua as asylum seekers.
    If the Republic of Cameroon is persecuting its citizens why did they not seek asylum at the point of entry? Cameroon shares a border with Nigeria, why did not seek asylum in Nigeria?They are making it up as they go along possible with the support of the Nigerian employee who is employed at the Ministry of Argiculture who had the brazen cheek to say on Observer Radio that Antigua is under populated. It is clear that Antigua’s immigration service is broken, as I strongly suspect that the Nigerian did not obtain employment legitimately with MoA.

    The fiasco designed by ALP is in keeping with GB corrupt modes operandi. His administration have also overlooked the most concerning factor that is, his administration has compromised the safety and security of the region and ultimately the US.

    The Northern region of Nigeria that shares a border with Cameroon, a deadly terrorist group (Boko Haram) operate within that region and GB administration has made it possible for potential terrorists to enter our shores with open access to the US.

    Malford has stated that at least 300 Africans are unaccounted for and these jokers are considering granting these fraudsters leave to remain, it is absolutely incredulous!!

    There should be no discussion, they came as tourists and they should leave, but no doubt the broken immigration service won’t be able to locate all of them!!

    It’s no wonder the Canadians and the Americans have imposed visa restrictions on us and rest assured the Brits are not too far from doing the same.

  9. Melford is severely deluded what skills could they have that we don’t have or could not be employed from CARICOM citizens?

    Firstly, Nigeria is not an international tourists destination,
    Secondly, it is a politically unstable country because of the numerous coups,
    Thirdly, Nigeria’s first president, Mutualah Muhammad who attempted to stamp out corruption and promoted a government of transparency was brutally murdered for his belief.

    From the assignation of the president ,Nigeria continued to strive on corruption, lastly, Nigeria is renowned for money laundering, drugs and human trafficking and selling of human body organs.

    Melford should declare to the nation which of those skiill sets that ALP is preparing Antigua and Barbuda for.

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