The Nigerian Government is working on a prisoners’ transfer agreement with China.
The Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, announced this in Abuja at a news conference on the achievements of the foreign policy of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, since it came into power two years ago.
“Thousands of Nigerians are being held behind bars in China for various offences, including those attracting death sentences. Human rights groups in Nigeria have however, been drawing the attention of the Nigerian Government to the plight of the Nigerian prisoners.” Mr. Onyeama said.
According to Mr. Onyeama, a group known as the Black African Re-orientation and Development Organization, recently appealed to the Nigerian government to secure the release of 6,000 Nigerians in Chinese prisons.
Mr. Onyeama said the release of the prisoners could not be facilitated because there was no existing agreement between Nigeria and China on transfer of prisoners.
“The issue of Nigerians in prisons in China is something we are dealing with and the prisoner transfer agreement it is something we have to have an agreement on with China.
We are working to have one in place, we have taken that on board and we are trying to get our prisoners to serve the rest of their terms here,” he said.
The minister added that government had stepped in to plead for the commutation of prisoners on death row in Asian countries.
Mr. Onyeama at the briefing also announced that five of the country’s foreign missions abroad were set to be shut down by the Government, as part of measures to cut the cost of maintaining its 119 missions worldwide.
The Minister, who did not identify the embassies to be shut down, said the process for closure was underway and was also subject to the approval of the President.
“We do not want to indicate the embassies that will be closed yet because we are in the process of submitting the proposals. The cost analysis and also the political analysis, we did to the President.”
When he sees that, he may or may not want to close some, so we have not yet reached the stage of closing some,” he explained.
The minister noted that closing the foreign missions was “extremely expensive.”
“The expense, costs of closing embassies is so high and prohibitive but in the long run, it will be more economical,” he explained.
The minister added that the closure of the missions was in line with the agenda of the administration.