Teddy Oscar, Abuja


The House of Representatives has decried the increasing number of Nigerians in foreign prisons, adding that the present situation is as ridiculous as it is embarrassing.

Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, House of Representatives’ Committee on Diaspora chairman dropped the hint, after her committee visited two prisons in South Africa, where 409 Nigerians are being held for various offences.

During an interaction with the inmates, members of the committee, which include Hon. Ajibola Famurewa and Hon. Umaru Shidanfi, were told that some of the inmates have completed their prison terms, but were still being kept in the prisons.

The inmates, who complained of extreme discrimination by the South African prison authorities, said that they get very bad deals simply because they are Nigerians.

They further alleged that the authorities sometimes tear into pieces their Nigerian passports, and even refuse to grant them bail, while their counterparts from other countries that are charged with similar bailable offences were granted bails.

Dabiri-Erewa, who advised the inmates to stay away from crime as obviously, observed that it does not augur well, no matter what.

During a visit to the Nigerian high commissioner to South Africa, Ambassador Sonni Samuel Yusuf, the committee commended the embassy for their various interventions and intimated him of the various allegations Nigerians in South African prisons and others were complaining of discrimination in several areas.

Yusuf assured the committee that the embassy will continue to make the welfare of Nigerians in South Africa their priorities, adding that “nobody has the right to seize anyone’s passport not to talk of tearing them into pieces.”

Yusuf, who observed that issues like that are not peculiar to Nigerians alone, but blacks generally in South Africa, hinted that African ambassadors in South Africa are deliberating on them.

“The embassy will not relent in its efforts to protect the right and dignity of Nigerians,” he added.

More than 400,000 Nigerians are resident in South Africa.