- Category: Diaspora
- Published on Thursday, 26 April 2012 15:38
- Written by Admin
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The House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs was on Wednesday stunned when it heard that 145 Nigerians were in Togo prisons.
Onwuliri said that out of the 145 Nigerians in Togo prisons, 60 had been convicted, while the remaining 85 were awaiting trial.
She said that the embassy in Togo had intervened by urging the Togolese authorities to fast track the prisoners exchange agreement between the two countries.
Onwuliri, however, explained that there were certain offences that could be transferred under the agreement.
She said that inadequate funds had hampered the intervention of the Nigerian Missions abroad, saying it cost a lot of money to engage lawyers abroad for some of these cases.
According to her, the ministry is in a tight corner on how to meet its financial obligations to the foreign missions because of the removal N3 billion from the ministry’s 2012 budget.
She said the ministry in conjunction with the Ministry of Justice would soon conclude prisons transfer agreement as a way out, to assist Nigerians serving various jail terms in other countries.
The minister, who apologised to the committee for not furnishing it with all the necessary information, promised to get all the data.
Earlier, the chairman of the Committee, Rep. Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje, criticised the slow response of the ministry to the plights of Nigerians in various prisons abroad.
``The committee is not happy with the way the ministry is treating Nigerians in various prisons abroad and not having a data to work with. ’’
Ukeje reminded the ministry of the prison transfer agreement, which Nigeria was a signatory, especially in ECOWAS countries.
She noted that it provided that ``a Nigerian must not be held more than three months before being tried,’ and recalled how Britain complained that Nigerians were congesting their prisons.
Ukeje (PDP-Abia), expressed regrets that the committee had no answers to the issue because of the inability of the ministry to furnish it with data.
``I am a very depressed person. So much pending matters but we as a committee don’t have answers to them.
``From Togo to China, India, UK, U.S, Libya, Spain, Malaysia and so on, why is it impossible for us to have data of all Nigerians in various prisons?
``We are supposed to show them that we care by visiting and engaging the respective missions to fast track their trial and give them other consular assistance but we don’t.
``This attitude must change in line with our citizen diplomacy. ’’
She, however, gave the ministry a week to furnish the committee with details of Nigerians in various prisons.
The committee chairman directed that it should be done, country by country, exchange agreement, how many on death rows and how many were awaiting trial among others. (NAN)