Monday 4 August 2008

Nigeria: A very welcome reprieve

Ambassadors at work

I am pleased to write this blog today as news reaches me that 29 condemned Nigerians [1] in Thailand and Afghanistan have been reprieved.

In this vein, I must congratulate the Nigerian official representations in those countries for the laudable activity in compassionate diplomacy that is beginning to give value, concern and dignity to the lives of Nigerians with a burden of criminality.

This development is heartening because it begins to show the world that we would not allow Nigerians to be sacrificed as severe punishment fodder and consequently the scapegoats for deterrence to other nationalities.

Every Nigerian must have a right to life regardless of where they are and what offence they might have committed - every attempt must be made to ensure that Nigerian rights are protected, defended and respected in both a judicial sense and to some extent in a show of humanitarian compassion where legal process has been exhausted.

Commuted to serve at home

Just over a month ago, 2 Nigerians were executed for trafficking heroin and it appeared not enough had been done to ensure that they were not poster advertisements to commemorate [2] the UN anti-Drugs Day 2008.

In having had these sentences commuted, they would all be deported to Nigeria where they are supposed to serve out their sentences.

I cannot say that the conditions in Nigerian prisons would be better than those of the countries in which they committed their crimes, but being alive and not under the sentence of a possibly gruesome death is probably the beginning of rehabilitation.

There is however much more to do in this matter, countries like Indonesia [3], Singapore [4] and Saudi Arabia [5] butcher our countrymen like cattle within their at times questionable judicial systems, there must be an end to this.

The dangers of irregular migration

I am quite interested in the root cause analysis that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in embarking on which is to highlight the dangers of irregular migration [6] which leads to avoidable deaths [7] in the treacherous waters that separate Africa from Europe.

Obviously, people who embark on such escapades have the compelling impression that there is a better life and a world of opportunities in the lands they seek to reach.

The causes of irregular migration

This means that the work of the government, business leaders and political representation must be geared to make Nigeria a viable place to keep its human resources and talent such that those dreamy faraway places where money appears to fall off trees becomes less attractive to adventurous sojourns.

The other issue is the hedonistic tendency to the ostentatious display of wealth as a confirmation of status in society; there is no doubt that this practice is primitive and uncouth – it sets the worst examples of aspiration amongst the youth in conditions and communities that desperately eke out an existence in dire situations.

Curtailing the inducements

Whilst one cannot legislate against hedonism, we need to work towards ensuring that anyone who intends to put up a show of wealth must also have clearly audited and legal sources of the same; failing which, all that wealth should be confiscated and put to use within the communities they intend to show off to.

In any case, the reprieve is the greater news of this blog, but the fact is, if we are to persuade more countries not to shoot up more Nigerians for whatever crimes; taking capital punishment off our law books would be a good start for negotiations.


[1] The Punch: 29 condemned Nigerians in Thailand, Afghanistan get reprieve

[2] BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Nigerians executed in Indonesia

[3] Sourced from Daily Champion - Nigeria: 70 Citizens Await Execution in Indonesia, Saudi Arabia

[4] BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Singapore executes drug smugglers

[5] Five Pakistanis, Nigerian executed in Saudi - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

[6] Sourced from - Nigeria: 29 Condemned in Thailand, Afghanistan Get Reprieve

[7] Illegal immigrants targeting Italy - Breaking News - World - Breaking News

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