The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, has challenged the Federal Government to demonstrate beyond the shadows of doubts with facts, figures and names, and show Nigerians the 60 prisoners of Nigerian origin that were freed from prisons in Tanzania.
The Nigerian Government had during the week, stated that it had successfully secured the release of 60 out of the 73 Nigerians imprisoned in Tanzania.
The government, through Abdur-Rahman Balogun, Head, Media and Public Relations Unit, Nigeria in Diaspora Commission, further affirmed that these Nigerians were imprisoned on different charges.
The commission stated that their repatriation was made possible by the Nigerian ambassador to Tanzania, noting that ever before COVID-19 pandemic, the Nigerian Mission had been working on repatriation of Nigerian prisoners in Tanzania.
The rights group, however, accused the Nigerian Government of peddling what may turn out to be mere propaganda for whatever reason.
HURIWA, in a statement to DAILY POST on Saturday signed by its National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, said, “We got an intelligence report from an official of the Nigerian community in Tanzania who has spent cumulatively over eleven years living and working in the East African nation that till Yesterday Friday there is no evidence that any of the Nigerians incarcerated in the Tanzanian prison has been freed.
“The informant called our attention to the publications in most Nigerian Newspapers claiming that the Chairman of the National Commission in charge of Diaspora affairs Honourable Abike Dabiri has secured through the Ambassador of Nigeria in Tanzania about 60 of the Nigerian prisoners in Tanzania.
“The source who is one of the leaders of the Nigerian organised community said it was only on Thursday that the Nigerian Embassy in Tanzania asked his officials to forward the names of Nigerians serving time in the Tanzanian prison.
“The Source told us that although he may not want his name in prints but he is honestly informing us to tell Nigerians that the news of the release of the Nigerian prisoners in Tanzania is not true as nobody has so far being freed since the names are only being compiled.”
The group said it was urging the Nigerian media to demand from the head of the commission on Diaspora affairs Honourable Abike Dabiri to show Nigerians the documentary evidence of the identities of the Nigerians released from the Prisons in Tanzania.
HURIWA said it was the constitutional right of Nigerians in line with the Freedom of Infformation Act of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 2015 to be informed with backup evidence the identities of the Nigerians who as the government claimed were freed from the Prisons in Tanzania.
“There is already a precedent to this demand. Whenever the National Emergency Management Agency fly in Nigerians rescued from enslavement in Libya or whenever the National Anti Human Trafficking Agency NAPTIP brings back our girls from anywhere outside of our shores from sexual exploitation and slavery, these government agencies as a matter of practice in line with the imperative of following the principles of transparency and accountability and openness often show Nigerians video evidence to back up these actions of these key government institutions,” it added.
“HURIWA expects that the media as the public vanguard and conscience of the nation in line with section 22 of the Nigerian Constitution should task Mrs. Abike Dabiri to show us the empirical data of the prisoners the Nigerian government claimed to have released from the Prisons in Tanzania.
“Government must be seen following to the letter the best global practices of openness, transparency and accountability.
“We will no longer allow government officials to bandy figures and seek to confuse gullible NIGERIANS to believe that the government cares about their wellbeing whether in or outside of the Nigerian space when the reality is far from this claims.”