Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The Federal Government has said the welfare of Nigerians abroad is of cardinal importance, including Nigerian prisoners in foreign prisons.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated this in a statement by Acting Spokesperson Friday Akpan while reacting to a report titled “Over 150 Nigerians Languish in Ethiopian Prison.”
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to inform that its attention has been drawn to a recent publication in the media captioned “Over 150 Nigerians Languish in Ethiopian Prison”. After due consultations with our Mission in Addis Ababa, the Ministry wishes make the following clarifications:
“While it is important to state that the Embassy conducts regular consular visitations to Nigerians in various prisons in Ethiopia, the most recent of such was in January 2019, led by the Ambassador of Nigeria to Ethiopia, His Excellency, Bankole Adeoye. Available records in the Embassy indicate that there are 140 Nigerians in Kality prison.
“Understanding that the welfare of Nigerians abroad is of cardinal importance, every available diplomatic means is being explored, including a Prisoner Exchange Agreement with host authorities to ameliorate the conditions of our citizens in Ethiopia. In this regard,the issue at hand has been identified as a critical topic at the proposed Senior Officials Meeting of the Nigeria-Ethiopia Joint Ministerial Commission scheduled to hold in Addis Ababa in June 2019,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
The Ministry further stated that it was saddening to note that certain Nigerians have been involved in activities that contravene Ethiopian law.
It, however, said the Nigerian embassy was working assiduously to ensure that justice is tempered with mercy on the culpable individuals.
“The Embassy will continue to make necessary legal proceeding involving Nigerians and continue to work closely with the Ethiopian authorities as soon as Mission is informed of arrest and detention of Nigerians in accordance with the diplomatic and consular provisions. Therefore, the assertion that convictions happen for lack of adequate legal representation is unfounded and out of proportion.
“The Ministry therefore wishes to assure the general public that the Embassy remains seized with all matters pertaining to welfare of Nigerians in Ethiopia, and would continue to carry out its responsibilities in accordance with international legal frameworks,” the government added.