The Nigerian Ambassador to Senegal, Salisu Umaru, says Nigeria and Senegal are still discussing the release of a Nigerian vessel and the crew arrested in 2015 by the Senegalese authority.
Umaru told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that the issue was part of a recent discussion between Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, and his Senegalese Counterpart, Sidiki Kaba.
NAN recalls that Onyeama had recently led a Nigerian delegation to Senegal to chat a way forward on the enhancement of the bilateral relations between both countries.
The envoy explained that in February 2015, Nigerian crew members and a Ghanaian on board a Nigerian registered vessel, MV Dola, were arrested offshore the coast of Senegal.
He said that the vessel entered Senegal’s territorial water boundary without authority and was arrested along with its crew.
“Some stowaways were discovered in the vessel when it was searched. Both the stowaways and the crew members were detained at Rebeuse Prison in Dakar.
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“In August 2015, the stowaways were released and repatriated to Nigeria, leaving the crew members.
“In 2017, two of the detained Nigerians died in prison custody leaving 14. All efforts by the embassy to secure their release or speedy trial have not been successful,” he said.
Umaru said that the Nigerian mission in Senegal had been working round the clock to ensure the release of the vessel and the detainees.
“ The issue was part of what we discussed in the meeting; we are still working on the matter,’’ he added.
The ambassador also said that there were some few Nigerians serving various jail terms in Senegal.
“We have some few Nigerians that are in prison in Senegal; they are about 78.
“Some of them are awaiting trials. Most of them are involved in local petty issues that are not straight forward, and we have intervened where necessary,” he said.
The ambassador however said that the most notable case was that of the seized vessel and detained crew.
He said that about 15,000 Nigerians living in Senegal, majority of whom resident in Dakar, the capital, operated without fear of molestation or harassment.
“In terms of doing businesses and buying and selling, there is no harassment in that context.
“Once you come in and you are registered and you follow due process, nobody harasses you. Even the ECOWAS protocols cover a lot of things on movement of goods and services and humans,” he added. (NAN)