There are a lot of Nigerians on death row in Indonesia.
The Foreign Affairs Minister, Olugbenga Ashiru, left Abuja on Tuesday for Indonesia and the Philippines to revive clemency talks for Nigerians on death row in the Asian-pacific countries.
A Director in the Minister’s office, Sola Enikanolaiye, made this known to newsmen in Abuja during a one-day workshop for diplomatic correspondents.
He said that the visit was a follow-up to the February visit of the Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang-Yudhoyono, to Nigeria, where the issue of clemency for Nigerians on death row was discussed.
At the time, the Indonesian president did not provide any definite answers to the pleas of the Nigerian government for pardon of its citizens in Indonesian prisons.
Mr. Enikanolaiye said: “You will recall that we have a lot of Nigerians on death row in that country (Indonesia).
“The honourable minister is concerned and is ready to plead for clemency with a bid to ensure that some of these Nigerians, if they are not pardoned, they can be returned under the Prisoner Transfer Agreement (PTA).
He said that the minister would discuss the PTA issue with Indonesia and noted that the last execution of a Nigerian in the country took place in 2012.
The director recalled that former foreign minister, Ojo Madueke, undertook a similar trip to the country in 2010 which resulted in a moratorium on the execution of those on death row.
A report published by Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman House Committee on Diaspora Affairs in February put the number of Nigerians on death row in Indonesia at 48.
Meanwhile, the ministry official said Mr. Ashiru would also hold discussions on trade and investment and seek support for Nigeria’s non-permanent bid to the UN Security Council (UNSC).
Mr. Enikanolaiye also confirmed for the first time the imminent withdrawal of some Nigerian troops in Mali and Sudan.
He said that two battalions from the UN Peacekeeping Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) were expected in the country soon while a battalion would return from the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).
“A huge contingent is returning from Mali and we will only leave a small contingent of signals,” he said.
On the reasons for the withdrawal, he said: “Again all the reasons you read in the media are correct.”
The government gave the growing security challenges at home as reason for the withdrawal of troops from the peacekeeping missions.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported the difficulty the Nigerian army had in battling insurgents and keeping peace in the North, checking piracy and oil theft in the South South, and also playing major roles in foreign missions. A Senate report had also shown that the Nigerian military was very thin and massive recruitment was required to make it strong enough for multiple operations.
However, some reports gave Nigeria’s loss of the position of Force Commander of MINUSMA to a Rwandan as the main reason behind the withdrawal.
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