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Executive Director of Asylum And Refugee Rights Advocates (ARRA), Dr Okey Ezugwu Esq.
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NGO Calls for Urgent Intervention in the Plight of Nigerians and Other Migrants in Ethiopian Prisons

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The Asylum and Refugee Rights Advocates (ARRA) has raised an urgent alarm over the distressing conditions faced by Nigerian migrants, transit passengers, and other nationals in Ethiopian prisons.

The call for immediate action was prompted by recent reports and intelligence which highlighted a worrying increase in the number of deaths and deteriorating health conditions among inmates in the country.

In a statement signed by its Executive Director, Dr Okey Ezugwu Esq., the nongovernmental organisation (NGO) said, “We urge the Nigerian government, the African Union (AU), the United Nations (UN), and other concerned stakeholders to swiftly intervene and conduct thorough investigations into the alarming and discomforting reports emanating from Ethiopian detention facilities. It is imperative that we ensure legal protections and assurances for the well-being of those incarcerated.”

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Recalling disturbing accounts from detainees, the body said, “Information received from various sources within Ethiopian prisons, as well as from Nigerians residing in Ethiopia, paints a grim picture of the injustices faced by some inmates in the country.

“Many are believed to be imprisoned for minor infractions, such as misunderstandings with airport officials or innocuous inquiries that were misinterpreted as offensive. Others have been detained following simple disputes with local citizens, and there are cases where individuals with valid immigration documents and legal status have been inexplicably incarcerated”, the statement noted.

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ARRA said it “stands firmly against criminality and the violation of any nation’s laws. However, we advocate for the adherence to due legal processes and the protection of human rights for all individuals, regardless of their nationality. The majority of those suffering in these conditions are Africans on African soil, which is a regrettable and unacceptable situation.”

In further plea for governmental action, the NGO said, “We call upon the Federal Government of Nigeria and other African governments to protect the rights of their citizens and ensure that they are not subjected to unjust treatment abroad. We propose that the Nigerian government undertake a comprehensive inventory and census of Nigerians in foreign prisons, providing necessary legal and other forms of assistance where applicable.

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“While we acknowledge the commendable efforts of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiCOM), ably led by Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, in addressing the challenges faced by Nigerians abroad, we emphasize that there is still much to be done. The protection of our citizens’ rights and freedoms must be a priority, and we must act with urgency to alleviate their suffering everywhere and anywhere they are”, the statement stressed.

As of the latest available information, Nigerian nationals alone are over 300 inmates serving various prison terms in Ethiopian prisons besides those abandoned as awaiting trial detainees.

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