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Nigeria, India to exchange prisoners

The Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ambassador Ajjampur Ghanashyam, has revealed of plans by his country and Nigeria to sign the Prisoners Transfer Agreement which would allow nationals of both countries to return home in order to complete or serve their jail terms.

Ghanashyam, who said this while featuring on the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum, Sunday in Abuja, disclosed no fewer than 1,100 Nigerians were serving various prison terms in India.

“When I came to Nigeria, there were about 1,800 Nigerians in our prisons and that was shocking for me and now I am told it is about 1,100. We are waiting for an agreement to be signed between India and Nigeria on transfer of sentenced persons.

“They need to be brought back and they can also be taken back to India before commencing their jail terms so that they can serve their sentences here. At this is at the moment, pending with the Nigerian government. I hope that we will be able to sign it,” he said.

The Indian envoy also said some Indians had been arrested as pirates, adding that the High Commission was engaging the Nigerian authorities to ensure that the innocent ones among them released.

“We still have some problems with piracy. There are ships operators who hire Indians to run the ships. The boys are not aware of that the ships are used for bunkering; they are paid to do a job on the ship.

“So they picked up the job and then land on the ship only for the Navy to come and pick them up and take them to jail.

“You must arrest the owner of the ship, maybe you should arrest the captain of the ship but not these boys who have no knowledge of what the ship was doing,” he said.

Ghanashyam said Indians living in Nigeria were quite happy, adding: “I have not come across Indian who complains but occasionally there are some pockets of kidnappings.”

“But ultimately we have not seen any loss of lives to kidnapping and I believe the situation was much worse before. This is because I think the infrastructure of law enforcements in the country is now far better than what it was in the past in Nigeria,” he said.

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