Reps seek legal aid for Nigerians in foreign prisons
File: House of Representatives

By Tordue Salem, ABUJA

The House of Representatives, on Thursday, urged the Federal Government ascertain the condition of Nigerians in foreign prisons and offer them legal assistance.

The lawmakers adopted a motion for that purpose, sponsored by Dennis Idahosa.

The motion entitled “Need to Ascertain the Number of Nigerian Citizens Being Detained in Foreign Prisons”, observed that “Nigerian citizens are in almost all countries of the world, making exploits in sports, technology, business, education and politics and have been ranked as one of the highest educated immigrants in foreign countnes;

“Also notes that due to the large population of the Nigerian diaspora community, the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, NIDCOM, was established to provide for the engagement and participation of Nigerians in the Diaspora in the development of Nigeria.”

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According to the sponsor, international conventions and treaties prescribe that anyone charged with a criminal offence is entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impatial tribunal established by law.

The sponsor noted that “the World Bank estimated remittances of around N24.3 billion per year and 6% of the country’s GDP, thereby making Nigeria one of the highest-ranking countries of the work in remittances inflow.

“The remittances of Nigerians living abroad have been of significant impact in the development and economic growth of the country.”

He raised concerns that “many Nigerians are languishing in foreign prisons, some of whom are being illegally detained, while some are exposed to labour exploitation, poor living conditions, discrimination, sex exploitation and other forms of dehumanising treatments.”

The lawmaker also expressed worries that “from a 2019 survey report by the Legal Defence and Assistance Project, LEPAD, about 16,500 Nigerians who are in prisons outside the country were convicted without legal representation and not knowing why they are in jail.”

He said he “believes that the Federal Government needs to employ diplomatic means to assist Nigerians who were wrongly convicted and are being detained in various prisons abroad.”

The House adopted his arguments, and resolved to “urge the Federal Government to intervene and secure the release of Nigerians who are being detained illegally in prisons abroad.”

The House, also “mandated the Committees on Foreign Affairs, Justice and Inter-Parliamentary Relations and diaspora to ensure compliance.”

Vanguard News Nigeria

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