SAYS MOST OF THE 270 NIGERIAN NATIONALS CURRENTLY IN ETHIOPIA PRISON TERMS ARE INCARCERATED FOR DRUG-RELATED OFFENSES

By Vincess Okushi

The Federal government has refuted an alleged plight of Nigerian inmates in the Kaliti Prison in Ethiopia in a viral video by one Dr. Paul Ezike on social media.

In a statement signed by Francisca Omayuli, Spokesperson Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tuesday, 3rd October, 2023 described Dr. Ezike’s narration as exaggerated and blown out of proportion.

Noting that his assertion of inaction by the Nigerian Mission in Addis Ababa to the alleged plight of Nigerian inmates is unfair and misleading.

According to the statement,

Over 270 Nigerian nationals are serving various prison terms in Ethiopia. Most of them are incarcerated for drug-related offenses. The Nigerian Mission in Addis Ababa, as with other Nigerian Missions world over, embarks on regular consular visits to these prisons to ascertain and attend to the wellbeing of Nigerian inmates, and in the same vein engage with host authorities on their behalf.

It added that “The Ethiopian authorities, on the other hand, have always maintained that Nigerian inmates are not treated differently from other inmates, Ethiopian inmates inclusive. Scarce resources and budgetary constraints, amidst the growing number of inmates, often feature as the main challenge for the prison authorities.

It is in this regard, that the Federal Government of Nigeria, in response to the demands of Nigerian inmates, is in the process of concluding a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the Transfer/Exchange of Prisoners with the Ethiopian Government. When finalized, this will enable Nigerian Inmates to complete their jail terms in Nigeria, where their family members could complement the government’s efforts towards their maintenance in prison.

This will be particularly beneficial to inmates with underlying illnesses. For instance, information obtained by the Nigerian Mission in Addis Ababa from the Federal Prison Hospital, Kaliti regarding the death of Ms. Favour Chizoba on 12th March 2023, revealed that she died of cardiac arrest, having had a history of hypertension and cardiac disease.

Similarly, on the death of Mr. Joachim Uchenna Nwanneneme, a Nigerian inmate in the same Kaliti Prison on 22nd September 2023, the official report indicated he died of kidney failure. He was previously diagnosed with tuberculosis, which according to the hospital officials, prompted his isolation.

Ethiopia’s Bole International Airport is at the height of receiving massive movement of passengers and cargo to over 127 international destinations daily, prompting the reported cases of daily interceptions of drug traffickers, with Nigerians being the major culprits, contributing to the undue profiling and ill-treatment of a few innocent Nigerians transiting the Airport.

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