Vanguard (Lagos)

4 December 2012

Nigeria: Deported Nigerian Prisoners From Thailand Plea for Mercy

Nigerian prisoners in Thailand prisons, who were transferred to the Nigeria prisons, have called on President Goodluck Jonathan for help, saying only the presidency could save them from their long-term sentences.

Speaking through Mr. Arthur Angel, Chairman, Amnesty Desk, Set Free Prison Ministry, the prisoners said though the president's Committee on Prerogative of Mercy had visited the Kirikiri Prisons in Lagos to assure them of plans to grant them clemency, the process seemed delayed by President Jonathan's pending approval.

Meanwhile, the convicts also appealed to the Ministry of External Affairs to forward to the Ministry of Interior royal amnesties granted them by the Kingdom of Thailand, as each royal amnesty was meant to reduce their original sentences by one-sixth.

Lamenting the plight of the transferred prisoners, National Director, Set Free Ministry, Davidson Opara, said: "If the Kingdom of Thailand, whose citizenry they are not a part of, could grant them royal pardons to reduce the jail sentences it had given them, why will their own country not be patriotic enough to comply with these royal amnesties and reflect them in their sentences?

"Now, three royal pardons that should have helped reduce their terms are left to rot at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has reportedly failed to forward those letters to the Ministry of Interior for processing and transfer to the Comptroller of Prisons.

"Meanwhile, their mates in Thailand have regained their freedom."

A source, who was among the earliest transferred prisoners, told Vanguard: "The fourth set which came in 2008 and then the fifth which came in 2009 have been given no attention, including the sixth which came to Nigeria a few months ago."

The source added that the first three sets, which came in 2003, 2005 and 2007, were attended to.

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