The Federal government has secured the release of 63 out of 70 Nigerians jailed in Tanzania. This development was announced by the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, NIDCOM.
POLITICS NIGERIA gathered that group has been working tirelessly to secure the release of several Nigerians jailed for different offences in the East-African country.
Abdulrahman Balogun, Media Unit Head for NIDCOM, is a statement to this newspaper on Wednesday said that arrangements were already in place to repatriate the convicts.
“Even before COVID-19 pandemic, the Nigerian Mission had been working on the repatriation of Nigerian prisoners in Tanzania. The Ambassador, Dr Sahobi Isa Gada OFR, mni was actually in Nigeria in January 2020, specifically for this purpose, after having successfully secured a release of 60, out of 73 Nigerians, in various prisons in Tanzania.
“Arrangements were then being made by the Ambassador for their repatriation. Most of them were arrested for alleged drug-related offences, while a few of the offences bothered on immigration. Despite securing repatriation for 60 out of the 73, the mission sent a team out to ascertain if there were more Nigerians in Tanzanian prisons.”
“While the mission has joined other countries in making a plea for amnesty for Prisoners during this COVID-19 period, the mission remains optimistic the Tanzanian Government would respond positively, while the mission will continue to work on repatriation, which was affected as a result of COVID-19.”
“For each of the 73 Nigerians in the Prison, the mission had paid 330.000 shillings as court fees for each of them, and was always represented in court. The mission had also successfully negotiated repatriation for 60 prisoners.”
“It was true that a British citizen working with an NGO did visit the office of the SSA Diaspora to the President then, with a complaint and verdict about the very slow nature of the Tanzanian judicial system which sees trials dragging on for too long. The Nigerian mission, after tireless diplomatic interventions, succeeded in getting retrieve for 60, out of 73 inmates.”
Balogun also admonished Nigerians to be good advocates of the country whenever they find themselves in another region. “it is disheartening to note that while the mission successfully sought reprieve 60 inmates, a Nigerian returning to Nigeria after working in Tanzania for three years was caught with hard drugs at Zanzibar and has since been changed to a Zanzibar High Court for possession of illegal drugs.”
“While the mission makes regular visitation to the prisons, it must be noted also that no person is allowed into any prison during this COVID-19 and movement of people from one point to another is highly restricted,” he said.