The Federal Government » has said it will continue to engage Saudi Arabian authorities in negotiations over the fate of Nigerians on death row for alleged drug trafficking in that country.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama » , disclosed this while fielding questions from newsmen in Abuja on Friday, February 2, 2018.
The minister’s reaction followed a report that there are over 25 Nigerian drug suspects held in several prisons in Saudi Arabia.
The report indicated that 15 of the suspects were on death row, while three have been executed, leading to a call on Federal Government to intervene.
Onyeama, however, said necessary steps are being taken by Federal Government to engage Saudi Arabian authorities on the matter.
He said, “regarding Nigerians on death row abroad, we have made very strong intercession over the issue with government of those countries to review the cases and not to execute them.
“However, you know that there is a limit because these are sovereign countries which have their rules and laws.
“But as far as the Saudi Arabia is concerned, we have been intervening at government level with authorities of that country.
The minister added that government is working with some Non Governmental Organization
In May 2017, Onyeama had ruled out the possibility of getting Nigerians on death row in various countries abroad repatriated home through the Prisoners Exchange Programme.
He had said that capital offenders did not fall within the prisoners exchange programme, adding that it is impracticable for those convicted for capital offences repatriated unless they were commuted to life sentences.
Onyeama at the time was reacting to a call by a Human Rights organisation, Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP), which asked the Federal Government to increase its efforts in fighting for Nigerians on death row in foreign countries.
According to the organisation, no fewer than 300 Nigerians were, at the time, on death row in prisons across Asian countries since 2016.