FG rules out repatriation of Nigerians on death row in foreign countries

The Presidency has said it will not allow the repatriation of Nigerians on the death row in prisons in various foreign nations back to the country.

Foreign affairs minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, said the repatriation of capital offenders does not fall under the prisoner exchange programme that Nigeria is implementing with select nations.

The minister explained that it is often impossible for those serving terms for capital offences to be repatriated, unless their term is commuted to life jail.

A non-government organization, Legal Department Assistance Project said about 300 Nigerians are on the death row in several countries in Asia and Middle Eastern countries as at last year.

120 Nigerians are reportedly facing the prospects of death in Chinese prisons, and over 170 in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, and five in Qatar, United Arab Emirate and Saudi Arabia.

It estimated that about 16,500 Nigerians were being held abroad, while most of those on death row were convicted of drug-related crimes.

Mr. Onyeama, however, said: “Each country has its laws and each country is sovereign. So, we do not have any leverage in terms of influencing the laws of countries and the implementation of those laws”.

“With respect to the death row, in cases where Nigerians have been sentenced to death, we have always intervened to ask for commutation of the death sentence.

“You can have agreements where you can have prisoners exchanges or you can have some mechanisms for after a prisoner has served a certain amount of their sentence.

“They could come back to their country to serve the rest.”

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