The Nigerian High Commissioner in India, Oyebola Kuku, has expressed concern over the increasing number of Nigerians in jails in India.
Mr. Kuku told visiting members of the House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora, led by Abike Dabiri-Erewa, in New Delhi on Tuesday that more than 500 known Nigerians were in various jails across India.
He said the inmates included convicts and others awaiting trial.
The high commissioner said the Nigerians were being held for offences, such as drug trafficking, fraud, Internet scam, identity fraud, cyber-crimes, job scams and forgery of travel documents, such as passports and visas.
“Among the greatest challenges of the mission is Nigerians, who are lured into drug business by Indian drug barons. They are jailed when caught while the Indian drug barons are left untouched.”
He said most Nigerians were stranded in India because of strict Indian laws, which prevent unskilled workers to establish small businesses, like barbing saloons or open a restaurant except through an Indian.
“By Indian law, those who overstay their visas, pay penalties ranging from 10,000 Rupees to as much as 50,000 rupees. Nigerians are made to raise these penalties hence they languish in detention camps or lie low.”
Mr. Kuku said there were, at least, 10,000 Nigerians in India but only 3,500 were registered with Nigerian High Commission and they were scattered in places, such as New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Jaipur.
He said most Nigerians resident in India lacked special skills that could enable them to compete with India’s immense skilled manpower.
The high commissioner advised that a formula should be worked out in collaboration with the High Commission of India to restrict entry visa to India to only credible Nigerians.
He also appealed to the legislators to help draw government’s attention to the issue of funding missions with chronic consular problems to enable them to discharge their duties effectively.
Responding, Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa said it was regrettable that some Nigerians soiled the name of the country through their bad attitude and called for a change of attitude.
While commending the mission for attending to myriads of problems confronting Nigerians living in India, the legislator promised to assist in the area of appropriation.
Also, a member of the committee, Bimbo Daramola, said there should be aggressive education for those travelling abroad to be good ambassadors of Nigeria.
Mr. Daramola said there should be check and balances in the issuance of visas by the Indian mission in Nigeria as well as the application of the rule of reciprocity to Indians doing business in Nigeria.