The House of Representatives yesterday decried ill-treatment and discrimination meted against Nigerians living in South Africa, noting that no fewer than 409 Nigerians “are currently serving jail terms in the country.”
Chairman of the House Committee on Diaspora, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, disclosed this in a statement she issued after the committee’s visit to two prisons in South Africa, thereby describing the increasing numbers of Nigerians in foreign prisons as “ridiculously embarrassing.”
Dabiri-Erewa, who visited the prisons alongside two members of the committee, Hon. Ajibola Famurewa and Hon. Umaru Shidanfi, consular officers of the Nigerian High Commission and executives of the Nigerian Union in South Africa, said over 400,000 Nigerians “are resident in the country.”
During her interaction with some inmates, the lawmaker explained that some of them confessed that although they had completed their jail terms, they were still denied freedom.
The lawmaker explained that the inmates “complained of extreme discrimination by the prison authorities in South Africa. The law enforcement officers always maltreat citizens of Nigeria for unjustifiable reasons.
“Sometimes, the authorities tore their Nigerian passports among several other allegations and refused to grant them bail, while others from other countries who committed similar bailable offence were granted bail.”
However, Dabiri-Erewa, currently representing Ikorodu Federal Constituency in Lagos State, urged the inmates “to stay away from crime as obviously it does not augur well, no matter what.
The committee also visited the Nigerian High Commission in South Africa, commending the commission for their interventions in various allegations not only by Nigerians in prison, but also those suffering from discrimination in several areas.
But the Nigerian High Commissioner to South Africa, Mr. Sonni Samuel Yusuf, assured the committee that the mission would continue “to make the welfare of Nigerians in South Africa their priorities.”
The high commissioner explained that nobody “has the right to seize anyone’s passport let alone tearing them to pieces. Issues like that are not peculiar to Nigerians alone but blacks generally in South Africa and African ambassadors in South Africa are deliberating on this issue.”
He said the mission would not relent in its efforts “to protect the right and dignity of Nigerians and recognise the large numbers of Nigerians excelling in South Africa in their various areas of endeavours.”
Yusuf added that the mission would continue “to ensure that one bad apple does not spoil the whole bunch. Over 400,000 Nigerians are resident in South Africa.”