Abike Dabiri-Erewa, the Chairman/CEO of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), has revealed that 99% of Nigerians are currently languishing in Ethiopian prisons for drug trafficking offences.
Dabiri-Erewa made this revelation in an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Friday.
She said, “Sometime ago, the Nigerian Mission in Ethiopia had a long conversation with the Ethiopian authorities, and they got amnesty for every Nigerian in that prison, so they left. They let them go, and they came back to the country, but guess what? A whole lot of them returned again, committed the same offense—drugs—and then they were arrested.”
The NIDCOM boss, however, dismissed a viral video claiming that 250 Nigerians are languishing in Ethiopian prisons and that they were going to be killed.
She said, “Some Nigerians did a video and just said 250 Nigerians are in Ethiopian prisons and they are going to kill them. I’m telling you categorically that the video was a lie, and that’s part of the problem. Anyone can do a video.
“That is the subject of a Senate investigation. I was in the Senate, and I believe that next week the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Diaspora and NGOs, Senator Victor Umeh is going to present his report.
“So I don’t want to go ahead with what he is going to present, but here is what we told the Senate; that is a lie; we don’t have 250 Nigerians in Ethiopean Prison. I gave them the list of Nigerians; less than 150 Nigerians are in one prison, and 99 percent of them are there for drugs.”
Meanwhile, Dabiri-Erewa has urged Nigerian asylum seekers to leave legitimately and with proper documentation to avoid “unpleasant consequences.”
She stated this in light of a growing number of Nigerians migrating out of the country, a phenomenon locally referred to as japa.
According to a statement by the commission’s Director of Media, Public Relations, and Protocols Unit, Abdur-Rahman Balogun, on Thursday, Dabiri-Erewa gave the warning when she visited some Nigerians at a shelter in Brampton, Canada.
Expressing sympathy for their condition, the NIDCOM boss urged others without proper documentation who are seeking asylum to desist, saying the situation is getting tougher in many countries.
“It is just not worth it, more often than not,”she added.