There are speculations that not less than ten out the 18 recently executed foreigners in Libya are Nigerians as Nigerians in the Diaspora are calling for a major investigation to established how many Nigerians were executed recently in Libya.
In all, the executed 18 were believed to be foreign nationals from Egypt, Nigeria and Chad.
An editorial in the independent newspaper during the week had questioned Nigeria government’s laxity in protecting the nation’s citizens abroad, citing the example of United States which always fight for the cause of all erring Americans abroad irrespective of crimes committed.
Already, a group, Nigerian civil society group, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has petitioned President Goodluck Jonathan over the execution of those Nigerians who for some time have been on death row in Libya.
The group urged the President “to urgently seek an extraordinary session of the African Union Assembly to discuss the execution of Nigerians and other Africans in Libya in order to proffer durable solutions to the recurring problem.”
In the petition dated 3 June 2010 and sent by SERAP Solicitor Mr Femi Falana, the organization said: “We are seriously concerned about the execution of eighteen persons, including nationals of Nigeria, following purported conviction for murder. The number of Nigerians executed is yet unknown but more than 200 people are reportedly currently on death row in Libya.”
“We are further concerned that the state murder of Nigerians and other Africans took place despite subsisting provisional measures granted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which ordered the Libyan authorities not to execute any Nigerians on death row in Libya pending the final determination of the communication SERAP initiated before the Commission. The execution also took place despite a resolution by the African Commission calling for moratorium on the execution of the death penalty,” the organization added.
According to the organization, “In the Provisional Measures with reference number ACHPR/PROVM/LIB/01/75.09 dated 9 September 2009, and signed by Commissioner Bahame Tom Mukirya NYANDUGA, then Acting Chairperson of the African Commission, the Commission said: “We are seriously concerned about the allegations that several Nigerians are held on death row, while others are held in prison under inhuman and degrading treatment in Libya.
Nigerians rank among the worse protected citizens in the entire world either by home government or the assigned embassies.
In 2007, Immigration authority in the United kingdom had contacted the Nigerian Embassy while deporting about 12 Nigerians back to the country.
As the victims were driven to the Embassy for identification, the expectation of the UK Department was an appeal from the Embassy for leniency and pardon, but rather, the Nigeria House leadership endorsed the deportation telling the UK Immigration that the deportees deserved what they got and that the department should take any action they wanted to take. It was the most disappointing response to the UK authority.
Officials working under Chief Christopher Kolade, the then High Commissioner confirmed to your sincerely then than the 12 Nigerians were guilty of deportation having erred in the law of a foreign land. Such had been the reckless abandon with which Nigerians situations are treated- a situation that has made Nigerians loose hope in Embassy guide or guard as Nigerian citizens, and holding their fate in their palms..
A reaction came in the case of the slaughtered Nigerians in Libya from an angry Nigerian:“For a fellow African country to have treated Nigerian citizens with such disregard tantamount of the peak of disgraceful humiliation and insult”, The enraged legal practitioner told Emnnews.com in London yesterday that the nation must rediscover herself and wake up to a new world civilization.
Last year, there were series of protests by Nigerians in some parts of the world about the lack of care and protection for them by Nigerian embassies across the world while the home government continue to ignore the plight of the citizens.
The shabby treatment of Nigerian citizens and un-listening nature of home government have given a free check book to many nations across the world that have held the stereo-type view about Nigeria- a real reason attributed to why no respect is accorded the Nigerian anywhere in the world.
“It all down to the way home government treat her citizen. If your government ignores you, the entire world also ignores you” said Simon Oti, a Nigerian social worker.
In the case of the , A Tripoli massacre, a top legal practitioner denied reports that proceedings in Libya’s criminal justice system often fail to meet international standards.
Mohammed Tumi, managing partner of the ‘Tumi law firm’, said, despite criticisms, Libya’s judiciary system is not biased against foreign nationals.
“I strongly believe that the Libyan judiciary system is one of the best judiciary systems in the world. Whoever is stating that the Libyan judiciary system is not fair and is not just, I believe is not saying the truth. From an experience point of view, as Tumi law firm, every single day we file against government bodies and we are treated fairly before the court.
And, we have won so many judgments in favor of foreign companies,” he said.
Amnesty International said foreign nationals are at a disadvantage in the Libyan legal system.
The Cerene newspaper reports that over 200 people are currently on death row in Libya.
Analysts say a majority of those on death row are mostly foreigners who they say are likely to face the death penalty. They also contend that the foreigners are often not provided interpretation services during trials, which are usually conducted in Arabic.
But, attorney Tumi denied there are no translators for foreign nationals in legal proceedings.
Libyan authorities have yet to officially identify the executed 18. But, theCerene newspaper reported that 14 of the accused were executed in the capital, Tripoli, while the other four were executed in Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city.
Tumi said there are ongoing debates to finally repeal the death penalty.
“Even the high authorities in the country … they are not in favor of the death sentence.
In a very angry reaction to the Libya massacre, SERAP, in a communiqué released by its solicitor Femi Falana said: “Every citizen has a right of return to his/her country in conditions of security, dignity and justice. Nigeria has a legal and moral responsibility not only to re-admit its own citizens but also to ensure proper conditions for their reintegration, safety and respect for their human dignity anywhere in the world. Nigeria also has a responsibility to improve the economic and social conditions that contributed to mass migration of Nigerians in the first place.”
The organization is therefore calling on the President to use his “position and leadership” to:
1. urgently seek an extraordinary session of the African Union Assembly to discuss the execution of Nigerians and other Africans in Libya.
2. Defend the rights and interests of Nigerians, wherever they may be.
3. Ensure that Nigerians living in Libya have access to adequate consular protection.
4. Ensure that the Nigerian government show more interest in the well-being of citizens abroad, especially in countries like Libya, where Nigerians have been subjected to serious human rights violations and denied their international fair trial rights.
5. Insist that the Libyan authorities implement the provisional measures issued by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and stop further execution of Nigerians on death row in Libya.
6. Summon Libya’s ambassador in Abuja to protest at the execution of Nigerians.
7. Ensure that the government seeks international support and assistance for the full implementation of re-integration and empowerment policies for returnees.