Legal Nigeria

FG yet to pay adequate attention to citizens detained abroad – NGO

An NGO, United Nigerians in the Diaspora (UNID), says the Federal Government and the National Assembly have yet to meet their responsibilities to Nigerians facing prison sentences on trumped-up charges abroad.
UNID raised the concern as more Nigerians are placed on the death row in some South-East Asian countries, particularly Indonesia.
Their concern is also heightened by the United Nations’ (UN) preparation for the periodic review of the global illicit drug policy in 2016.
The organisation was formed to address youths’ challenges, providing succor to the downtrodden as well as collaborating with the governments in finding solutions to global and national social malaise.
UNID President, Dr Paschal Okoli, made the assertion in a statement on Sunday in Lagos.
Okoli said the development was due to the poor diplomatic overtures by the Federal Government and the nonchalant attitude of Nigerian missions in the South-East Asian countries.
He added that the silence on the issue by the National Assembly led to the recent killing of the Nigerians in Indonesia.
He said that while the unwholesome venture of Nigerians, especially youths in global drug trafficking remained condemnable.
He noted that the government’s “quarantine approach” to the plight Nigerians in some Asian countries led to the placement of more of them on the death row in Indonesia.
According to him, Nigerians are daily being harassed, intimidated and falsely accused of drug trafficking in Indonesia, Malaysia and other South-East Asian countries because they are aware that Nigerian government places no value on her citizens.
“As we speak, a Nigerian recently lost his manhood in Indonesia, for having the guts to befriend an Indonesian lady, under the cover of been a drug trafficker.
“Most prospering Nigerians homes in Indonesia and Malaysia are daily raided on setup charges by the local police and citizens without the embassies intervening.
“The Federal Government must raise its voice in the global campaign against drug trafficking, production, use and against the killing of drug offenders, especially Nigerians in some Asian countries,’’ Okoli said.
He also urged the Federal government to demand for full investigation into cases of Nigerians in detentions, noting that Indonesia and Malaysia had mounted clandestine global blackmail, portraying Nigerians as criminals and drug traffickers.
“The sudden rise of Nigerians in businesses, especially export and retail business in Indonesia and Malaysia among other South-East Asian countries irks the locals who use blackmail to hunt Nigerians.
“What baffles us is that while the nationals of these countries are daily operating their businesses in Nigeria without harassment, Nigerians are being portrayed as criminals and drug traffickers in their country.
“How do you react to the celebration by these two countries in the international media of Nigerians placed on death row?
“As a group of Nigerians with first class information on the issues, we reject in totality the portrayal and classification of Nigerians as drug traffickers by Indonesia and Malaysia and the continued nonchalance of Nigerian government to the plight of detained citizens in these countries,” Okoli said.
He also said that UNID’s concern remained to draw government’s attention to real issues and provide information on the plight of Nigerians in most South-East Asian countries.
The UNID President demanded the overhaul and investigation of Nigerians Embassies in Indonesia and Malaysia following their nonchalant attitude toward the plight of citizens on trumped-up cases drug offenses.
He said the nonchalant attitude of Nigerian embassies, especially in Indonesia and Malaysia negated the very essence nationhood and government social contract with the ordinary Nigerians.
“In most cases when cases were brought to the embassies’ attention, officials in the Nigerian Embassies embolden the local security agencies by classifying their citizens’ criminals without investigation.
“Recently, in the case of Nigerians killed for drug offences in Indonesia, Nigerians Embassy left their corpses to rot, unlike other countries who took full charge of their citizens’ corpses,” he added.
He said that while the Federal Government’s condemnation of global illicit drug trafficking, production and use was commendable, it must also be seen to be vigorously protecting the rights of every citizen abroad.
He urged the government to inaugurate a national body across the geo-political zones to enlighten the people on the implications of illicit drug trafficking and its reduction nationally and globally.
“Our current focus on punishment by imprisonment and death for drug offenders is outdated and Nigeria needs to join forces with others countries in championing the correction through sustainable awareness campaign and management of the nation’s drug problem,” he said.
Okoli also commended the UN for the forthcoming review of the subsisting global illicit drug laws.
He said the growth of international drug trafficking and the attraction of youths toward the dangerous trade called for a new advocacy based on decriminalisation of drug trafficking, production, sales and its use.
He canvassed for new drug advocacy to focus on respect for human rights, decriminalisation, proportionality of sentences, a developmental approach to illicit production and an evidence-based return to global rationality.
The subsisting global drug treaty, he said, was plagued with inconsistencies and ambiguous obstacles to international drug policy improvements.
Available data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and European crime-fighting agency (Europol), the annual global drugs trade is pegged at about $435 billion a year, with annual cocaine trade worth $84 billion.
Globally, organised crime accounts for 1.5 percent of global gross domestic product and is worth about $870 billion and drugs account for 50 per cent of international organised crime income.