The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said it has not abandoned the 140 Nigerians being held for various offences at Kality prison, in Ethiopia.
Nigerian Ambassador to Ethiopia, Bankole Adeoye confirmed the figure of Nigerians in the Ethiopian jail to ministry officials recently.
This was contained in a statement signed by the acting spokesman of the ministry, Friday Akpan, in Abuja, on Wednesday.
According to the statement, while it was important to state that the embassy conducted regular consular visitations to Nigerians in various prisons in Ethiopia, the most recent of such was in January 2019.
It said the visit was led by the Ambassador of Nigeria to Ethiopia, Bankole Adeoye, adding that available records in the embassy indicated that there were 140 Nigerians in Kality prison.
Akpan said, “…Understanding that the welfare of Nigerians abroad is of cardinal importance, every available diplomatic means is being explored, including a Prisoner Exchange Agreement with host authorities to ameliorate the conditions of our citizens in Ethiopia. In this regard, the issue at hand has been identified as a critical topic at the proposed Senior Officials Meeting of the Nigeria-Ethiopia Joint Ministerial Commission scheduled to hold in Addis Ababa in June 2019.
“While it is saddening to note that certain Nigerians have been involved in activities that contravene the Ethiopian law, the embassy is working assiduously to ensure that justice is tempered with mercy on the culpable individuals.
“The embassy will continue to make necessary legal proceeding involving Nigerians and continue to work closely with the Ethiopian authorities as soon as mission is informed of arrest and detention of Nigerians in accordance with the diplomatic and consular provisions.
“Therefore, the assertion that convictions happen for lack of adequate legal representation is unfounded and out of proportion.”