The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a statement in response to a video circulated on social media by Dr. Paul Ezike, addressing concerns over the situation of Nigerian inmates in Ethiopia.
While acknowledging the concerns raised, the Ministry considered Dr. Ezike’s narration exaggerated and aimed to clarify the ongoing efforts to support Nigerian inmates in Ethiopian prisons.
Dr. Ezike had alleged inaction by the Nigerian Mission in Addis Ababa concerning the alleged plight of Nigerian inmates. The Ministry disputes this assertion, emphasising that the Nigerian Mission conducts regular consular visits to the prisons to assess the well-being of Nigerian inmates and engage with Ethiopian authorities on their behalf.
The Ministry revealed that there are more than 270 Nigerian nationals currently serving various prison terms in Ethiopia, primarily for drug-related offences. Ethiopian authorities maintain that Nigerian inmates are treated no differently from other prisoners, citing resource constraints as a major challenge in the prison system.
In response to the demands of Nigerian inmates, the federal government of Nigeria is in the process of finalising a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the Transfer and Exchange of Prisoners with the Ethiopian Government. This agreement, once completed, will allow Nigerian inmates to complete their sentences in Nigeria with support from their families, which is particularly beneficial for those with underlying health conditions.
The Ministry also provided information about the recent deaths of Nigerian inmates in Kaliti Prison, highlighting that these inmates had pre-existing health conditions.
The ministry acknowledged that prison conditions worldwide are challenging and urged Nigerians to refrain from involvement in transnational organised crimes, including drug and human trafficking, to avoid imprisonment and protect the country’s image.
Regarding profiling and interceptions at Ethiopia’s Bole International Airport, which serves as a transit hub, the Ministry noted that Nigerians have been identified as major culprits in drug trafficking cases. However, it emphasised that not all Nigerian passport holders are subjected to profiling at the airport.
The federal government of Nigeria, through its mission in Addis Ababa, reiterated its commitment to addressing irritants in bilateral relations between Nigeria and Ethiopia, primarily caused by a few individuals.