Senegal national at Detention Center for 4 years … MEAL TICKET COST $584,000

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If National Security Minister Edmund Dillon is correct that it cost $400 a day to keep someone at the Immigration Detention Center, then a prisoner from Senegal who has been there for four years, has racked up a meal ticket for $584,000.

It would have been more economical to send him back home a long time ago.

But that’s the stark reality at the Detention Center where there are 130 inmates, racking up meal tickets and cost this country a lot of money to upkeep them.

Elhadj Abass Gassama, 38, a Senegal national, wants to go home. He has made a three-minute video about the entire ordeal.

Gassama said he arrived in Trinidad in 2005 on the invitation of a friend. He said he flew from Senegal to Venezuela and then took a boat from Venezuela to Trinidad.

He said he was aware that he had overstayed his time in Trinidad but he was hoping to work and save money to return to his homeland. He said he left his country in search of better opportunities but did not expect to be sitting in a “prison” without any hope of release.

In July 2013, he went to Tobago and on his way back to Trinidad, he was arrested by authorities at the Scarborough port and brought to Trinidad where he has been imprisoned at the Detention Center.

Gassama said he worked in the construction industry and also as a private security guard. He met a Trinidadian woman and they got married. The woman, who was from Warrenville, Cunupia, died from natural causes.

Gassama said he has both his marriage certificate and his wife’s death certificate which he submitted to immigration authorities. He said he also sought assistance from the Living Water Community and they helped him attain an Order of Supervision letter which means in lieu of detention he would be released but have to regularly check in with immigration officials.

He said for the past four years during which he has been imprisoned he has not heard of any developments with respect to his case. “For four years I am at the Detention Center, they are not telling me anything at all. I am tired, I am suffering, I am really fed up.”

He said he has not been to court or the immigration office and he is left to languish without any word. He said his family does not know if he is alive or dead as he has been unable to contact them for years.

He added, “I have not committed any crime in your country, I am begging, let me go back home, give me my freedom. I am sick of the foolishness that is taking place at Detention Center. For four years I have been detained, eight years out of my country, I need, I am asking, I am appealing, please send me home, let me go back, I am truly suffering.”

Elhadj Abass Gassama

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