160 Nigerians in Ethiopian Prisons , as Murder of Nigerian Student is charged in Philippines

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By Agnes Nsikak

Honorable Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman/ CEO, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) has informed the Senate Joint Committees on Diaspora and Inter Governmental Affairs and Foreign Affairs that the employer of Ikem, a Nigerian student beaten to death in Philippines, has been charged with murder, along with five others.

She also said that a viral video by a man posted on social media recently alleging that 250 Nigerians are slated for killing in Ethiopia was totally false and untrue.

This was the highlight of the investigative hearing of the Joint Senate Committees presided over in Abuja on Monday by Sen. Victor Umeh, saying on the case of Ikem, who was brutally murdered, the Philippines authorities have declared the employer, who has since been on the run, wanted.

Dabiri-Erewa said
that Nigeria Embassy had informed the Department of Foreign Affairs in the Philippines and also reported the case to the Inspector General of the Philippines National Police. The Embassy, she added, had maintains regular contact with the line police station at the location; with a strong directive to go for the investigation.

Dabiri-Erewa said the investigating police team on the case are done with evidence building and presented the case to the Mandaue city prosecuting Department for action; who has evaluated it and deemed it fit for murder case filing.

“They have filed the case and issued a warrant of arrest to the boy’s employee and five other suspects; they are charged for murder, human trafficking and operation of illegal business in the Philippines”, she said.

The NiDCOM boss who gave the committee, a copy of the pictures of the suspects, said the pictures have been forwarded to all exits in the Philippines to prevent them from leaving the country. She stressed that the case will be held as soon as the major suspect, still at large, is arrested.

On Nigerians in Ethiopian prisons, she said the official information received is that 160 Nigerians were serving various jail terms under very poor conditions and that over 90 per cent of them were for drug related offences.

She told the Committees that in order to decongest the prisons, amnesty was granted to them but majority of them went back and still committed the same crime.

She said that a Memorandum of Understanding was entered into awaiting Ministry of Justice in Nigeria to sign its own side of the deal to enable prisoners swap or to continue their jail term in their respective country.

In addition, she explained that most of those caught are those transiting from Addis Ababa to other countries of the world

Other stakeholders who appeared before the Committees were Hon. Amb. Enya Francis , Director, Consular representing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the sister of the deceased, Blessing Essien, President National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS) Mr John Ogar and Country Representative Commonwealth Students Association (CSA), Mr Nwanba Chidubem.

Speaking in the same vein, the Director Consular in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Enya Francis said they are in close contact with the Embassy and on top of the matter.

Francis said the corpse is yet to be buried as it will cost between N31million to N35 million to repatriate and bury the corpse back to Nigeria as against N10 million to N15 million to cremate it in the Philippines.

He said the cost of keeping the corpse at the funeral home is accruing N30,000 on daily basis, hence the need to expedite action on the investigation and take appropriate action.

Speaking on behalf of the family of the deceased, Blessing Essien, Ikem elder sister, said he was the only son of the family and in-line with Igbo tradition, it would be an honour to bring the body back to Nigeria for burial.

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