“One of my lawyers threatened me that I would see because here is Austria ”
“My current lawyer called me a slave and deceptively offered to buy my flats”
“My two life insurances and bank account were closed without my consent”
“The accident I had was turned against me that I wanted to commit suicide and when I told my lawyer to appeal she said that the decision was final”
“The money my company paid me through my former lawyer for wrongful dismissal after my accident he refused to pay it to me”
“Please help I am losing all I laboured in life”
My heart bleeds and I am in heavy pains. It is so, so sad and unfortunate to see my fellow black man and a Nigerian in the state I saw Nosa Igbinoba toddled like a child as his waist trembled to dance while he moved his legs with extreme difficulty and painfully struggled to support himself with a crutch. As we walked, we stopped intermittently for a rest as he interwove his crutch from right to left and without minding who was watching us on the street his tears rolled uncontrollably as he narrated the good, the bad and the ugly side of his life story in Austria . I fought back to hold my own tears to avoid breaking him down the more, tried as much as I did, but nature still took its course and failed me at the end of our approximately 100 metres walk that took us more than 28 minutes.
“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” – Elie Wiesel. Please take your time to read through the unbelievable story of Nosa.
The genesis of his problem
“I am Nosa Igbinoba, a Nigerian from Edo State , who came to Austria in 1992 and was working as a lorry driver till I had an accident in May 2010. I bought two flats worth of €80,000 in Graz with a loan from ‘Steiermärkische Bank und Sparkassen’. While I used my €25.000 SUPERFUND (share) investment in the same bank as collateral, we had the agreement that I would be paying €630 every month for 24 years and of which I had already paid 6 � years before my accident in 2010.
“Things were also fine between me and my girlfriend who was also my insurance adviser but our relationship nosedived as she became jealous when my two children joined us from Nigeria . Thus, every day new trouble became the experience in our home and I was forced to rent another apartment. Yet the problem persisted as this lady had called over 25 times the police for me and when it became unbearable and was taking dangerous dimension I decided to relocate completely out of Graz to Vienna . I painfully took the decision to leave Graz because she was capable of framing me up and if she had done so nobody would have believed me as a black man and as a Nigerian. As if I knew, on the day we were packing out to Vienna she called the police and lied that I had threatened to kill her and our son. This was the genesis of my sorrows and tears that made my bank, my insurance, the judges and my lawyers to work in cooperation in making sure that I lose all I had worked for.
“I got a lawyer that was supposed to have defended me on this wicked allegation of threat to life but who unfortunately turned out to be more of a begging lawyer. The lawyer begged me to accept that I had threatened to kill my former girlfriend and our son and that if I could do so that I might only get €50 or €100 penalty because the judge was a good judge. I bluntly refused such evil and queried him if he had been a begging lawyer or a lawyer I had hired to defend me. The lawyer picked offence that I had insulted him, went into the court room and told the judge that he was sorry that he would not continue with the case because I had refused to cooperate. He told the court that my case for him was “scheißegal, es interessiert mich nicht mehr” (shit, it does not matter and does not interest me anymore) and that his contract with my case was over because he was sure that I did what my ex-girlfriend accused me of. He packed his documents and left the court room. As no lawyer in Graz accepted to defend me on this case again I went to court alone and defended myself and luckily was discharged and acquitted.
“But surprisingly after one or two weeks I got a letter from the same lawyer that had abandoned me in court demanding €1300. I told him that I would not pay such money because even though that I was not a lawyer but what he had done with me had been a breach of contract. He threatened me that ‘Wie werden sehen, hier ist Österreich’ (We will see, here is Austria ).”
The accident and the manipulations that became the conduit of losing all he has got in life including humiliation, intimidation and brutality
“I loaded my lorry in Vienna going to Salzburg and I was having some loads to offload in St. Pölten. When I got to St. Pölten and parked a colleague who was driving out after offloading was not happy with my parking. He exchanged words with me because he had said that my parking had narrowed the exit. As I watched him struggling to drive out without success, I came down from my lorry to help him drive out. I stood at his front and started to direct him and when he saw that he was almost out he suddenly decided to knock me down, climbed me and speed up for a distance and stopped before I lost consciousness. This happened on May 19th 2010 around 12 am but I was in coma till around 8 pm when I woke up in the hospital. According to people, after he had parked his lorry he went to a nearby coffee bar and announced that he had knocked down a nigger before people rushed out and called the ambulance and the police. But with the situation of things he had claimed that he had not seen me and my lawyer and the court had sustained that by ruling that I had wanted to commit suicide. I told my lawyer to appeal against the judgement but she had painfully told me that it had been over and as such cannot be appealed.
“Then in hospital and in pains, my company knowing very well that I could not come to work quickly they sacked me. As they sacked me, they also refused to pay me my benefits until I had to take them to ‘Arbeiterkammer’ (the Chamber of Labour). When my lawyer got to know that I had taken my company to the Chamber of Labour he told me to withdraw the case from them and give it to him since I had got a ‘Rechtschutzversicherung’ (legal protection insurance) and that he was now my lawyer that he could handle the case in such a way that I would get paid more unlike how it would be under the Chamber of Labour. I took his advice but could not do anything at that time because I was still lying in the hospital. I was at the hospital for about 5 – 6 months but immediately I came out I took the case and handed it over to him thinking that he wanted to help me. He actually took the company to court and they paid about €3200 or €3300 which I cannot say exactly now until I check my records but he seized the money and refused to pay me. When I contacted him to know why he had refused to pay me my money he told me that I still had to balance him some money because he had been the one handling my accident case, I asked him; did my legal protection insurance not pay you? He did not say anything. I went to my legal protection insurance to know what had happened. When I got there they told me that they had paid him every bill he had brought to them and I now requested for copies which they gave to me. When I got home I checked the total amount of money they had paid him and found out that it was nearly €23.000 or €24.000 but yet he was still demanding about €3000 from me. I reported him to “Rechtsanwaltskammer” (Bar Association) October last year and left him for another lawyer. And since then, each time I call the Bar Association to know if they have collected my money, they always tell me that they are still investigating. This my present lawyer added to my troubles after probably having discussed with him and perhaps with my former lawyer who had abandoned me in court but had threatened me that if I did not pay him that I would see that here was Austria .”
At this point he paused and suddenly burst into tears as I tried to calm him down. After few moments he started again.
“Under such heavy pains in the hospital I lost my sister. Crying bitterly that I could not see the corpse of my sister because I was helplessly lying on the hospital bed, another tragedy struck, that was, my father died. The loads were too heavy and unbearable and as if that was not enough my children were thrown out from the house under winter cold. While all these things were happening, I was still lying on the hospital bed and bills that I never knew before my accident kept on coming. I did not know anybody here in Vienna to turn to for help. A woman I thought that was helping me in sorting out these bills did not actually help me in this direction as my financial crises worsened as a result of bills that probably could have been avoided if I had negotiated with the authorities and also some bills that I am not supposed to pay but only needed to explain things to them, they have all now formed forces that may lead me to jail.
“The first thing I did while in the hospital as soon as I was able to make calls was to call my bank and we agreed that my monthly credit in the bank would be suspended for 1 year. When I came out from the hospital I went to them and told them that I would start the payment of my monthly credit again on February 20th, 2011 which they agreed and I left. But surprisingly after a few days, I got a bank statement showing that my old bank account had been closed and a new one opened for me for the same credit. I called the man in charge and told him that the new arrangement was unacceptable for me because my life insurance had been attached to the credit he had just closed. In the new arrangement the money had now been increased with about €30.000 more without any explanation. He had tried to persuade me to accept the new offer which I refused and took the issue to my lawyer who now took the case to court.
“And because the bank had now closed my account the disengagement money my company was supposed to pay me as ordered by the court for wrongful dismissal was paid through my lawyer’s account which he refused to pay me. Because of this I took another lawyer who now started where her colleagues had stopped and finished me.
“[…] in one of the courts cases with my bank, the judge brought out a letter which claimed that they had informed him about their intention and showed me and asked if I had received such letter from my bank. I took a look at the letter and told him that I had not. The judge said ‘yoyo’ that I could easily say that. I told the judge that he should ask the bank to bring the registered number of such letter they claimed that they had sent to me because if the police was sending somebody a penalty bill of only €35 they usually would register it; how much more a bill of almost €90.000? The judge now asked my lawyer to ask me if I was ready to pay about €88,962.98 the bank was requesting from me or he would order for the forceful auctioning of my flats and the seizure of my collateral. I told my lawyer that I was not the slave of the bank to work for them till I die. Shockingly even though I was not too surprised at the response of my supposed to be lawyer to my statement but I had never expected such assertion from her in an official court sitting. When I said that I was not their slave she replied immediately and said “of course you are their slave. What did you think you were before?” She went ahead and told me to take the offer from the judge as she was ready to pay me €78.000 for the apartment. After the court I went to her office and asked her to pay me the money she had offered in the court and take the apartment. She told me that she had been of course not serious as she had only used that in court.
“As we speak now, the court has ordered that either I pay the €88,962.98 as claimed by the bank before Tuesday next week (24/07/2012) or I lose the flats and my €25.000 cash share investment to the bank. The €620 that I was paying monthly for 6 ½ years which also totalled up to €48,360.00 will also go. They will also put me into prison because of accumulated and some questionable bills they have hindered me from paying and they will make sure also as their slave that cannot get any help from anybody that I pay them any allegedly amount as breach of contract just simply because the bank wanted to change my initial contract that had included a life insurance after I came out from hospital and I refused. And for that reason, all that I have laboured all my life must vanish.
“While in the hospital, one of the bills that came was a €800 penalty I had got for wrong parking. I went to the concerned authority when I came out from the hospital and we agreed that I should be paying €100 every month till the bill was over which I did not fail. But startlingly, on May 22nd, 2012 a group of policemen came to my house. When I heard a knock on my door around 11 pm on this day, I was wondering who that could be at that hour because I did not have any appointment with anybody. As I opened my door I saw these hefty policemen numbering about 7. They told me that I was under arrest. I asked them for what reason? They said for ‘Strafe’ (penalty). I asked; how much was the penalty? They said that they did not know. I asked again which penalty? They also said that they did not know but that I would get to know when I get to their station. At this point I now know that they were in my house for something else. So I told them to wait at the door because I had never heard this kind of thing before. I turned my back and was trying to make a call, they rushed in immediately and twisted my left and right hand at my back, kicked me down and started to beat me. Oh my brother! They brutalised me, they dealt with me and it was really very painful especially with my accident wound on my leg that was yet to heal properly but they did not show any mercy as they were heating it and boxing me in front of my children for doing nothing than being a black man and a Nigerian. It was too humiliating and inhuman. As they were manhandling me in my house they called more policemen as one could count up to 20 of them downstairs.
“When we got to their station they brought the bill which happened to be the €800 bill of which I had already paid €400. I now told them that this bill was a bill that I had an agreement of paying €100 monthly, so why must I be brutalised and treated like a common criminal because of it. They said that they were instructed that it was either I pay the money or I go to prison.
“For over one week I could not stand up with my legs and could not sleep well because of pains. The doctor’s reports are here to show the cruelty they meted on me. I cannot sue them because which court will I take them to? Which lawyer will defend me? Where will I get money to pay such lawyer since they decided without my consent to stop my monthly legal protection insurance? This people are making fun of me.
“My lawyer has been my greatest problem. In one of the court cases, I had told her that it should not hold because my doctor’s report that was supposed to be part of my evidence in that court sitting was not ready. She said okay. But after consultation with a friend I decided to go to the court that day to see if they had planned to hold the court at my back. When I got to the court, luckily for me I met the judge in charge of the case and inquired to know if my case would still hold. He told me that the case was already over and I checked my time, it was around 2:56 pm, I looked for a clock around and it was almost the same time with my watch, I left in pains gazing their next line of action. Two weeks later I got a letter from my lawyer saying that the court had been held as scheduled, had closed by 3:05 pm and had lasted for 30 minutes. I took the letter and went to her. I told her that she sent me an invitation to the court sitting which I had told her that it should not hold. She said but the court held. I then told her that if the court had ended by 3:05 pm as stated that would mean it had lasted for only 5 minutes. She said no that it had lasted for 30 minutes. I then told her that the court had not been held because the invitation she had sent to me indicated that the court had been scheduled to start by 3 pm and that I had been there shortly before 3 pm and had met the judge, and if she still insisted that the court had lasted for 30 minutes there was no way it could have ended 3:05pm. She became very angry and told me that the court had been held and whatever that I was saying did not interest her. This person is supposed to be my lawyer. I have lost hope.
“I am appealing to everybody with a human heart to help me. They have made eventually everything about my life complicated that I am even myself confused. The lawyers that are supposed to defend me are making sure that I lose every case. I did not work while in Nigeria and all that I have laboured for all these years, I am just helplessly watching as it slips to destruction without any reasonable reason. I did not have any pending bill to pay except the €650 monthly credit before my accident, but since this past one to two years, whether wrong or right, I have over €14.000 accumulated bills to pay.”
How cruel could this world be? Under 2 years, Nosa Igbinoba might sadly end up losing all he had laboured all these years including his €73.360 cash that summed up from his €25.000 share investment and the €620 monthly payment for 6 ½ years and perhaps still go to jail for a fault of not his. Can you help Nosa in any form? It could be advice, financial, legal or even moral support. A Nigerian concerned UK based lawyer has volunteered to take the case to the European Court . Would you like to be part of the legal team irrespective of your base? I appeal to the general public especially Nigerian communities in Austria to please get in contact with Nosa and advise him properly and also help him and go to some offices and sort out some of these bills because they are still increasing every day. Remember, solidarity against injustice is a moral imperative to all because silence in the face of evil is itself evil. Edit to suit your column sites and help him to publicise his ordeal.
Source: The Nigerian Voice