Nigeria faces an ongoing challenge regarding its international image, marred by the unfair perception of its citizens as criminals due to the actions of a few unpatriotic individuals. This perception has led to stories of Nigerian nationals serving jail sentences, experiencing mysterious deaths in foreign prisons, or facing execution, primarily for drug-related offenses in various foreign countries.
The recent video released by Dr. Paul Ezike shedding light on the alleged plight of Nigerian inmates in the notorious Kaliti Prison in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, has stirred deep concerns. It once again highlights the precarious situations that Nigerians abroad often find themselves in, seemingly for no reason other than their nationality.
Aside from the heart-wrenching cases of Nigerians executed for drug trafficking in countries like Indonesia, Singapore, China, Thailand, Malaysia, and others, there are reports of individuals who have died while serving jail terms without any clear reason for their incarceration. This year, the tragic deaths of Ms. Favour Chizoba and Mr. Joachim Uchenna Nwanneneme, both under questionable circumstances in the same Kaliti prison, have raised suspicions of foul play.
In Dr. Ezike’s video, he warns that without intervention, more than 250 Nigerians could lose their lives. He alleges that many of these prisoners are innocent travelers passing through Ethiopia’s transit hub airport, where they face unwarranted delays, missed flights, and coercive demands for money, ultimately leading to imprisonment without proper legal proceedings.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has refuted Dr. Ezike’s claims, describing them as exaggerated and unfair regarding the Nigerian Mission’s inaction in Addis Ababa. However, the ministry acknowledges that over 270 Nigerian nationals are serving prison terms in Ethiopia, primarily for drug-related offenses. They maintain that consular visits are regularly conducted to ensure the well-being of Nigerian inmates.
The dire situation of Nigerians in Ethiopian prisons sheds light on the larger issue of profiling and mistreatment faced by Nigerians in foreign countries. Despite diplomatic relations, many Nigerians continue to experience humiliation, physical assault, imprisonment, and even death abroad.
The Nigerian Senate has responded to the urgency of the situation by launching an investigation into the alleged killings and imprisonment of over 250 Nigerians in Ethiopia. This move aims to establish the true circumstances surrounding the detention of Nigerian citizens in Ethiopian prisons, ensuring their rights are protected and justice is served. It is a welcome development, reflecting the need for decisive action and unwavering diplomatic efforts to protect the interests of Nigerian citizens worldwide.