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Death row returnees send SOS to Yar’Adua

By Emma Amaize
WARRI — OVER 1,000 Nigerians on death row in Libya prisons who were recently repatriated, following the intervention of a Nigeria-based civil society group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), have sent a Save Our Soul (SOS) message to President Umaru Yar’Adua.

They urged the President to urgently intervene to save them from passing away in their own country after returning  alive from Libya, as they were not only hungry and devastated at the moment, but have no roof over their heads.

Their appeal was contai-ned in a letter to SERAP, thanking the group for its efforts which made the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to issue a provisional measure asking the Libya government to suspend the execution of the affected Nigerians.

The returnees, in their letter to SERAP’s solicitor, Mr. Femi Falana, dated 23 October, signed by Vitalis Onuoma and Ugochukwu Onuoma, said, “We thank and appreciate you and the entire members of SERAP for the efforts put in place to repatriate us back to Nigeria. We were on death row in Libyan prison with all hope lost, neglected by the Nigerian embassy and the ministry in charge.

“Your intervention was our saving grace and that you have brought back over 1,000 Nigerians serving different jail terms and death penalty in Libya, some of whom are now repatriated is laudable.

“We now seek your further assistance for our situation as we are back in Nigeria broke, homeless and deva-stated. We beg you to come to our aid to ensure that we are rejuvenated back to the society.”

Responding through its solicitor, Mr Femi Falana, SERAP said, “These retur-nees from Libya, and other Nigerian citizens that are frequently returned home, continue to face very difficult conditions.

“We are concerned that there is no concrete and effective system in place to re-integrate them back into the society. Many of these Nigerians have left the country for lack of economic and other opportunities at home.

“I had a chance recently to meet with some of the Nigerians who just returned from Libya and can confirm that their living conditions are extremely poor. They are unemployed and have inadequate access to housing and other basic necessities of life.

“Many returnees have nowhere to go, and merely surviving on limited support from their families and communities. Lack of government support for this category of vulnerable group compounds their situation and exposes them to insecu-rity and exploitation.

“Every citizen has a right of return to his/her country in conditions of security, dignity and justice. Nigeria has a legal and moral responsibility not only to re-admit its own citizens, but also to ensure proper conditions for their reintegra-tion, safety and respect for their human dignity.

“Nigeria also has a responsibility to improve the economic and social condi-tions that contributed to mass migration of Nigerians in the first place.”


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