Nigeria worries over death row prisoners

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Geoffrey Onyeama
Geoffrey Onyeama, Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs

By Isaac Aregbesola

With over 600 awaiting execution in various prisons over drug related offences across the world, Nigeria has resolved to continue engaging Saudi Arabia in negotiating the fate of those on death row for drug trafficking.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, said in Abuja on Friday there were no fewer than 25 Nigerian drug suspects held in several prisons in Saudi Arabia.

The report indicated that 15 of the suspects were on death row, while three had been executed, leading to a call on Federal Government to intervene.

Onyeama, however, said necessary steps were being taken by Federal Government to engage Saudi Arabian authorities on the matter.

He explained that “regarding Nigerians on death row abroad, we have made very strong intercession over the issue with government of those countries to review the cases and not to execute them.

“However, you know that there is a limit because these are sovereign countries which have their rules and laws.

The Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP), a human rights organisation, had reported that more than 600 Nigerians in South- East Asia countries are awaiting the hangman.

Hard drugs recovered by NDLEA. Twitter photo.

The revelations highlight the increasing desperation of some Nigerians in the narcotic trade.

More Nigerians are pouring across the borders with hard drugs in spite of the sophistication in technology as well as the stiff punishment mapped out to curb the illegal business.

The boom in the illegal trade perhaps speaks to the fact that the country’s law enforcement agencies still have much work on their hands.

Aside Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia are evidently among the active drug routes,

Some 120 Nigerians were reportedly on death row in Chinese prisons, due mainly to peddling in narcotics.

According to reports, about 16,500 Nigerians are pinning away in various prisons across the world, most of them on drug–related cases.

According to Mr. Chino Obiagwu, National Coordinator of LEPAD, the government “has not shown reasonable interest in the plight of these Nigerians in foreign land.”

He said many of the convicts were subjected to summary trials and convicted without the benefit of legal counsel.


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