By Chioma Iruke
Four months after The Heritage Times exclusive report on the illegal detention of Nigerians abroad, Nigeria’s Lawmakers have called on the Federal Government to secure the release of its citizens said to be illegally detained in prisons abroad.
The Heritage Times had in May, reported that over 3,000 Nigerians were languishing in detention facilities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Going forward, the country’s House Of Representatives noted that thousands of Nigerians have been convicted abroad without legal representation.
In July, Osaze Osemwengie-Ero, former Edo Commissioner for Arts, Culture, Tourism and Diaspora Affairs, said 300 Nigerian youths are illegally detained in Italian prisons.
The ex-commissioner, who was arrested and detained in 2019, said he was a victim of racial discrimination and manipulation of the Italian justice system.
Speaking on the floor of the Green Chambers on Thursday, Dennis Idahosa, a lawmaker from Edo state, said international conventions and treaties prescribe that anyone charged with a criminal offence is entitled to fair hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal.
Citing a 2019 report by the Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEPAD), the lawmaker said about 16,500 Nigerians are in foreign prisons “without legal representation and not knowing why they are in jail”.
He said the situation requires urgent intervention as “many Nigerians are languishing in foreign prisons, some of whom are being illegally detained, while some are exposed to labour exploitation, poor living conditions, discrimination, sexual exploitation and other forms of dehumanizing treatments”.
The lawmaker added that the situation has impacted Nigeria’s economy negatively.
He said: “The World Bank estimated remittances of around 24.3 billion per year and six percent of the country’s GDP, thereby making Nigeria one of the highest-ranking countries of the world in remittances inflow.”
Idahosa added that remittances have significant impact on the “development and economic growth of the country”.
The motion sponsored by Idahosa was unanimously adopted after it was put to a voice by Idris Wase, Deputy Speaker of the House.
The lower legislative chamber mandated its Committees on Foreign Affairs, Justice, and Inter-Parliamentary Relations to ensure compliance.