He also said that as part of the Bi-National Commission (BNC) discussion with the South African government, the said deportation did not take place as it was an illegal deportation. “I am happy to inform you that we have seen the end to consular problems in South Africa. President Jacob Zuma of South Africa has expressed his willingness to visit Nigeria soon as a follow-up,” he said.
We’ll not support Nigerians’ illegality abroad - FG
Abuja: As over 9,941 Nigerians are serving various jail terms abroad, the Federal Government, alongside the legislature, has said that it will not condone illegality by its citizens living abroad. This was the consensus reached between the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs led by its chairperson, Honourable Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at a meeting in Abuja.
The meeting, which reviewed the activities of Nigerians abroad as they affect the image of the country, said that though the ideals of citizen diplomacy was still in operation, it would not support illegality by any Nigerian abroad. Speaking at the meeting, Elendu-Ukeje said the number of Nigerians serving various jail terms abroad was a source of concern to the committee, as it affected the image of the country.
Ukeje said that though the committee would not support illegality, it would appreciate any support the ministry as well as the embassies and Nigeria missions abroad can do to them as citizens of Nigeria.
She said that the information at the committee’s disposal showed that a majority of them are in various jails abroad for consular and drug-related matters, wondering what the ministry could do to minimise the upsurge.
Responding, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Gbenga Ashiru, said that a majority of Nigerians in jails were for consular offences and in most cases, were at fault.
“What is illegal is illegal. Nigeria cannot support illegality. If you have six months visa, do not overstay but operate within the limits. If your stay has expired, and you are not through with what you are doing, please, come back home and renew your visa, as against violating the laws of another country,” he said.
The minister said that the best the Nigerian embassies and missions could do was to go and visit the Nigerians in prisons and see how they were faring.
Ashiru said that the ministry was constrained by paucity of funds occasioned by the cut in the ministry’s budget, and such, could not do much in terms of financially assisting Nigerians in jail.
He appealed to the lawmakers to assist the ministry in mounting up a campaign for Nigerians to be good citizens when they travelled abroad and not do anything capable of tarnishing the image of the country.
The minister, however, said that the ministry had directed all its missions abroad to defend and protect Nigerians to any level if their rights were being infringed upon by the visiting country.
“We owe it a duty to protect our nationals anywhere in the world where their rights were infringed upon. It is our responsibility,” he said.
Ashiru, who recalled the recent illegal deportation of 125 Nigerians from South Africa, said that as part of the apologies tendered by the country to the Federal Government, all the South Africans involved had been transferred and punished.
He also said that as part of the Bi-National Commission (BNC) discussion with the South African government, the said deportation did not take place as it was an illegal deportation.
“I am happy to inform you that we have seen the end to consular problems in South Africa. President Jacob Zuma of South Africa has expressed his willingness to visit Nigeria soon as a follow-up,” he said.