The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, NIDCOM, has secured the release of 60 out of 73 Nigerians in various prisons in Tanzania.
The commission disclosed this in a statement by Abdur-Rahman Balogun, the Head, Media and Public Relations Unit, NIDCOM on Thursday in Abuja.
He said that the Nigerian Mission in Tanzania had been working on repatriation of Nigerian prisoners in Tanzania before the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Mr Balogun, the Nigerian Ambassador to Tanzania, Dr Sahabi Gada, was in Nigeria specifically to discuss the issue in January.
He said that arrangements were being made by the ambassador for the repatriation of the 60 released prisoners.
“The Nigerian ambassador said that most of the Nigerians arrested are for alleged drug-related offences, while a few of the offences bordered on immigration.
“He added that despite securing repatriation for 60 out of the 73 Nigerians, the mission sent a team out to ascertain if there are more Nigerians in Tanzanian prisons,’’ he said.
NIDCOM said that the mission had joined other countries in making a plea for amnesty for prisoners during this COVID-19 period, and it was optimistic that the Tanzanian Government would respond positively.
“For each of the 73 Nigerians in the prison, the mission has paid 330,000 shillings as court fees, and was always represented in court.
“It is 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 reprieve for 60 out of 73 inmates,” Mr Balogun added.
He also appealed to Nigerians to obey the laws of other countries and be good ambassadors wherever they live.
“It is disheartening to note that while the mission successfully sought 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 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 pandemic, and movement of people from one point to another is highly restricted,’’ he said.