Reps, NIDCOM, Amnesty to save Nigerian in Saudi prison

The House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora, the Nigerian in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Amnesty International (AI) have agreed to make a last ditch effort to save a Nigerian, Suliamon Olufemi, who has been on death row in Saudi Arabia since 2002.

In a meeting with the Tolulope Akande Sadipe House Committee yesterday, the organisations agreed to work together and save Olufemi, who was alleged by Amnesty International to have been wrongly accused and tortured while being kept in prison since 2002.

The stakeholders also urged the Federal Government to step up its pressure on the Saudi Authorities to take a second look at the case on its own merit so as not to erroneously execute an innocent Nigerian.

The Amnesty International, NIDCOM and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs gave the lawmakers graphic details of how Olufemi’s travails in Saudi Arabia began, and an update of his current situation in the Holy Land.

According to Tosin Popoola and Mrs. Ossai Ojigbo, both from Amnesty International, Olufemi had travelled to Saudi Arabia on an Umrah visa in September 2002 and through a series of fortuitous incidents found himself in a fracas, which culminated  in the alleged death of a Saudi police officer.

They opined that the processes leading to the conviction of the Nigerian was flawed as he was made to sign a confessional statement he could neither read nor understand under duress.

Popoola said the Saudi law states that anyone that kills a police officer shall be killed and that the saving grace is the daughter of the policeman, who would be 18-year-old in October. She alone has the prerogative of mercy to commute the death sentence into a fine, he said.

He, however, warned that even then, the Saudi Courts could still insist on the death sentence and upturn the decision of the young girl.

NIDCOM boss Abike Dabiri said her organisation is working with the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Nigerian Embassy in Saudi to speak with the authorities and also the daughter of the slain policeman.

The chairperson of the committee said:  “I feel sad when an innocent person is executed. We can’t change the Saudi law, but we can appeal to the authorities to look at the case again.”

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