Nigerian-government suspends repatriation of Nigerian prisoners in Tanzania

The Federal Government has put on hold the planned repatriation of Nigerians in Tanzanian prisons on account of the coronavirus pandemic .

It explained that the 60 Nigerians whose discharge had been perfected , would continue to stay in the correctional facilities until the COVID – 19 disease had been curbed in the country .

The government had last week announced that it had secured the release of 60 out of the 73 Nigerians serving various jail terms in Tanzanian prisons .

It said the Nigerian Mission in Tanzania had paid 330 , 000 shillings (N 55, 544 ) for each of the 73 Nigerians in prison , noting that the Nigerian Ambassador to Tanzania, Dr Sahobi Gada , had secured the release of 60 inmates, while arrangements were being made for the discharge of the remaining 13 citizens.

Most of the convicts were arrested for alleged drug -related offences , while a few of the offences bordered on immigration law violations.

But giving an update on the planned evacuation of the ex -convicts , the Head , Media and Public Relations Unit, Nigeria in the Diaspora Commission , Abdur- Rahman Balogun, disclosed that they would not be evacuated until the pandemic had been overcome .

Balogun , who spoke to our correspondent in Abuja on Monday , stated that the inmates would continue to stay in the prisons until the proper arrangements had been made for their repatriation to Nigeria .

He said , “ Our citizens in Tanzanian prisons can ’ t be repatriated home for now , the evacuation would be carried out after the COVID – 19 pandemic crisis .

“ Though they have been discharged by the authorities , they would remain in prison custody until they are released to the Nigerian ambassador to Tanzania who would ensure their evacuation to Nigeria. ”

The NiDCOM spokesman added , “ The arrangement had been concluded but it was stalled by COVID – 19 . So , after the pandemic , the ambassador would continue with the process of repatriation . ”

He expressed the hope that the Tanzanian authorities would grant clemency to some categories of inmates.

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