Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Freed Nigerian defendants in Ethiopia have appealed to the Federal Government to rehabilitate them before their removal from the East African country possibly after the Coronavirus pandemic.
Ethiopian Government had on March 25, 2020 granted pardon to 4,011 convicts whose cases were not homicide in nature as part of measures to curb the rapid transmission of Covid-19.
Ethiopia’s Federal Attorney-General, Adanech Abebe was quoted as saying that those freed were serving jail terms in five federal prison facilities including Qaliti maximum prison, Kilinto, Shewarobit, Ziway, and Dire Dawa prison facilities.
Among the freed inmates were 57 Nigerians, said to have been trapped while on transit in search of greener pastures.
Miss Chika Nwachukwu, an Asaba-based freedom advocate and international business executive, alleged that the freed inmates had been abandoned after the Ethiopian government granted them amnesty, adding that they had been screened to ensure that they hadn’t the dreaded virus.
Nwachukwu lamented that the Nigerian citizens were now been denied of the little care they were hitherto getting as inmates, adding that most of them who needed proper medicare could not access medical facilities.
She accused Nigerian government of not showing concern after their liberty, adding that the governments of other freed foreign inmates had already taken their citizens out of the prison premises to safer places within Ethiopia.
“The people are just there unattended to. They can’t go out because of this Covid-19. Even the usual meals which they were being given while prison, are no longer be served.
“For now, they are assumed to be safe but if Ethiopian security agents make any arrest, the suspects would be brought to the prison, and if such a suspects Covid-19, they spread will be massive.
“They are lamenting, all they need now is for the Nigerian authorities to come and identify them and make provision for a safer place, probably a hotel where they can stay until the airspace is opened.
“For me, I don’t know why it is taking this long for the federal government of Nigeria to respond and rehabilitate her citizens. Is it because most of them are from the eastern part of the country,” she wondered.
It would be recalled that one of the inmates, Efe Odemu, a native of Delta State, died last year while serving his term in one of the federal prison facilities in Ethiopia.