October 12, 2011

Nigeria will not abandon Farouk Abdulmutallab, says Minister

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) – Nigeria will not abandon accused “underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab even when he is in prison, the country’s foreign minister said Wednesday.

Foreign Minister Olubenga Ashiru told reporters that he believes Abdulmutallab “has gone through a fair trial” in Detroit.

The Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab pleaded guilty Wednesday to trying to blow up a US-bound airliner on December 25, 2009, saying he had sought to avenge the killing of Muslims. He had previously pleaded not guilty.

Ashiru said the Nigerian embassy in Washington had found a lawyer for Abdulmutallab and had monitored the proceedings.

“We stand by our nationals, and when even they are jailed we still will visit them in prison,” the minister said.

“We do not abandon them solely because they have been sentenced. We continue to offer all consular assistance to all people, including Abdulmuttalab whenever he is sentenced,” Ashiru said.

Abdulmutallab is expected to spend the rest of his life in prison. Many of the counts to which he pleaded guilty carry mandatory minimum sentences of 30 years without parole, which must be served consecutively.