Petition not aimed at Africans, activist explains, but at public inquiry into relationship between Antigua Airways and Gov’t

Pearl Quinn-Williams, the activist who has been calling for a public inquiry into the Antigua Airways/migrant-trafficking saga, says the petition calling for an investigation into the scandal is not directly targeting, or aimed at, the Africans who have been stranded here.

Quinn-Williams, the United Progressive Party (UPP) caretaker for St. John’s Rural North, says her actions have nothing to do with where these visitors came from.  In fact, she says, her actions would have been the same under these suspicious circumstances had the visitors hailed from any other country, including Caribbean islands.

The issues, Quinn-Williams says, are: how the Africans got here; under what circumstances they were brought here; and the involvement of the Government – since it claims that it was duped.

The UPP caretaker notes the allegations that some of the West Africans were defrauded of more than US$100,000 – by their own people – for a charter flight back to Nigeria.  That flight has not arrived, nor have the visitors been refunded their money, they told the police.

Quinn-Williams says this saga has opened up the visitors to exploitation, and the Government appears to be culpable, since it apparently has shares in Antigua Airways.  

However, she says, the Administration’s excuse – of having been duped – is not credible, since persons witnessed government vehicles transporting the Africans after they arrived in the early-morning hours and since they were issued visas on arrival.

Quinn-Williams says the irreparable damage that Antigua and Barbuda faces as a result of this scandal does not seem to bother the Gaston Browne Administration.

However, hundreds of residents and members of the Diaspora are up in arms about it.  Accordingly, a petition was launched last Thursday, February 23, and is now in circulation.  

Quinn-Williams is hoping to garner over 10,000 signatures before taking the documents to the Governor-General, H.E. Sir Rodney Williams, and requesting that a public inquiry be commissioned.