The Nigerian Government has now finalized arrangement for the release of 60 out of the 73 Nigerians imprisoned in Tanzania on different charges.
Their repatriation was made possible by the Nigerian ambassador to Tanzania.
The Head, Media and Public Relations Unit, Nigeria in the Diaspora Commission, Abdur-Rahman Balogun, made this known through a statement in Abuja on Wednesday.
“Ever before COVID-19 pandemic, the Nigerian Mission had been working on repatriation of Nigerian prisoners in Tanzania.
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“The Ambassador, Dr Sahobi Gada, was 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”, the statement read.
Balogun further stated that most of the convicts are arrested for alleged drug-related offences, while a few of the offences bordered on immigration law violations.
He explained that the mission had been visiting other custodial facilities in Tanzania to check other Nigerians who may be serving jail terms, adding that it had also canvassed for amnesty for the prisoners on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He noted, “For each of the 73 Nigerians in the prison, the mission had paid 330, 000 shillings (N55,544) as court fees and was always represented in court. The mission had also successfully negotiated the repatriation of 60 prisoners.”
Balogun noted that a British citizen working with a non-governmental organisation had earlier complained to NIDCOM about the slow nature of the Tanzanian judicial system.
“It is disheartening to note that while the mission successfully sought a reprieve for 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 charged before a Zanzibar High Court for possession of illegal drugs,” the commission said.