18 Nigerians languish in Indonesian prisons

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By  VINCENT  UJUMADU, awka

NO fewer than 18 Nigerians are presently languishing in various prisons in Indonesia with the fear that some of them may be among 10 slated for execution soon.

The18 Nigerians were condemned to death by the Indonesian courts in 2008 for their alleged various criminal offences ranging from drug peddling and other related offences.

So far, the Indonesian government had condemned a total of 21 Nigerians to death, sentenced four to life imprisonment and eight others to various jail terms ranging from 11 to 18 years.

Out of the 21 condemned Nigerians, two of them, Samuel Iwuchukwu Okoye and Hassan Anthony Nwaolisa were executed on June 28, 2008, while another, Augustine Ogbonna died under mysterious circumstances in the prison custody in September, 2008.

Worried by the plight of Nigerians in Indonesian prisons, a human rights activist and an Onitsha based legal practitioner, Mr. Melly Eze, at a news conference in Onitsha yesterday urged President Goddluck Jonathan, as well as the senate president, David Mark and speaker of House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal to prevail on the Indonesian president, Suuilo Bambang Yudhoyonoto, who is visiting Nigeria today to revisit the case of the Nigerians.

Eze had, in April 2010 written a strongly worded petition to Hon. Abike Dabire-Ewa, Chairman of House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora, urging her to mediate on behalf of the Nigerians.

He said: “ There is a fresh threat to execute the prisoners on death row anytime from now if no further diplomatic efforts and pressure are mounted on the Indonesian authorities.

“I have it on good and reliable authority that officials of Indonesian government who opened discussions with the Nigerian delegation are now expressing disappointment over an apparent display of unseriousness on the part of Nigerian government over the diplomatic move already initiated by Nigerian government officials.”

The human right lawyer recalled that his earlier petition to the Presidency, National Assembly and the Foreign Affairs Ministry in respect of the 18 Nigerians on death row and others serving various jail terms in Indonesia  had attracted reactions from Senator Uche Chukwumerije who moved a motion on the floor of the Senate to that effect.

Saturday Vanguard also recalls that a former Foreign Affairs Minister, Chief Ojo Maduekwe, during his tenure, led a high powered delegation to Indonesia to mediate on behalf of the convicts and other prisoners serving various jail terms in Indonesia .

Senate President, David Mark was also said to have promised that the issue will be addressed.

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