Nigerian High Commission seeks release of 12 citizens imprisoned for illegally crossing into India from Bangladesh

A delegation of the Nigerian High Commission on Tuesday, November 17, met Meghalaya Prison Minister, Alexander Laloo and sought his intervention for the release of 12 nationals arrested for illegally crossing into India from Bangladesh.

Recall that dozens of Nigerians were busted in 2019 for illegally crossing into India from Bangladesh.

Betrand Tochukwu Ikwuka, the All India Nigerian Students and Community Association (AINS&CA) Vice President, said they have been sent by the Nigeria Embassy in Delhi after receiving information about the 12 Nigerian nationals who are still serving jail time even after completing their terms since March 28, 2020.

“The arrested Nigerians are languishing in prisons in Meghalaya even after completing their six-month jail terms,” said Mr Ikwuka.

Six Nigerians including two females are lodged in Shillong District Jail while six males were sent to Jowai district prison, he added.

“Eight months have passed since March and our friends are still languishing in jails here. We are waiting for orders from the Meghalaya government or the Ministry of External Affairs,” he told PTI.

A first-class magistrate in East Jaintia Hills district had on February 13, ordered that the Nigerians be deported to their country, and a copy of the order was also sent to the chief secretary and the DGP, Ikwuka said.

Urging the state government to follow the international human rights protocols, he said, “India and Nigeria have a good relationship and we don’t want anything to spoil that,”

However, the Nigerian government does not support the crimes engaged by them and is unaware of how the accused persons crossed the international border, said Ikwuka.

Asserting that he is not trying to defend the Nigerian nationals, Mr Ikwuka said they deserve to serve jail term if they had attempted to enter India through Bangladesh without a proper visa. 

“All of them should have applied for a proper visa through the Nigerian Embassy if they wanted to come to India, They were first-time travellers and did not know where Bangladesh ended and India began,” he said.

In his response, the Minister assured that he will take immediate steps to release the 12 Nigerian nationals if they have completed their jail terms.

Prison Inspector General M Kharkrang gave assurance for a comprehensive report on the matter, he said, adding that the delay in their release was because the Home Department has to follow due procedures which also involves the Political Department. 

The Ministry of External Affairs will be informed for taking necessary action for deporting the Nigerians to their country, the minister added.

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