Nigerian Government Finally Releases Six Prisoners Abandoned In Jail After Transfer From Thailand

The Federal Government on Saturday released six prisoners repatriated from Thailand to complete their prison terms in Nigeria but held in Kirikiri Maximum Prison many years beyond their release dates.

The released inmates are Azukaeme Henry Ejikeme, George Chibuike Onyeama, Kennedy Tanya, Yakubu Yahuza Mohammed, Mrs Gloria Ogbonna and Wasiu Amusan, alias John Smith.



Documents seen by SaharaReporters showed that the six were imprisoned for drug-related offences but were granted royal pardon and their sentences commuted by the Thai monarch, Maha Vajiralongkorn, to one-sixth of their original sentences.

Making a case for the released inmates, human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, had in a letter in August 2020 to the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, alleged that the Nigerian government was wasting public funds maintaining them when they ought to have regained their freedom.

“Our clients were convicted in Thailand for drug-related offences at various times between 1998 and 2006. They were however transferred from Thailand to the Kirikiri Maximum Correctional Centre to complete their prison terms following the Prison Exchange Treaty of 2012 between the Kingdom of Thailand and the Federal Government of Nigeria. Section 5 of the said Prison Exchange Treaty stipulates that the transferring state i.e. Thailand ‘shall retain exclusive jurisdiction regarding the judgments of it’s court, the sentences imposed by them and any procedures for revision, modification or cancellation of those judgments and sentences,’” Falana said.

“Pursuant to the said treaty, our clients were granted general amnesty under the Thai Royal Amnesty Decree in 2016 and 2919. But due to undisclosed reasons the authorities of the Nigerian Correctional Services have refused to release our clients from unlawful incarceration notwithstanding that they have been pardoned under the Thai Royal Amnesty Decree. However, having obtained copies of the Royal Amnesty documents from the Government of Thailand through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we are pained to know our clients ought to have been released from prison custody at various times between 2010 and 2019.

“It is evident that the Federal Government which facilitated the transfer of our clients from Thailand to Nigeria has abandoned them in the Kirikiri Maximum Correctional Centre. Thus, due to unpardonable negligence of certain public officers, the Federal Government has been wasting public funds on maintaining our clients when they ought to have regained their freedom. We are therefore compelled to draw your attention to the facts and circumstances of the conviction, sentences and the royal pardon granted to our clients which are briefly set out below:

“Mr Azukaeme Henry Ejikeme was convicted and sentenced to 25 years imprisonment in 2006. He served 10 years and 5 months of the jail term in Thailand and has served additional 11 years in Nigeria. Pursuant to the Royal Decree of Amnesty to Detainees, (with) his sentence commuted, he ought to have been released from prison custody on March 6, 2018. 

“Mrs Ogbonna née Jigbale Gloria Lieoma (aka Chola Mulenga) was convicted and sentenced to 33 years imprisonment in 2005. She served 10 years of the prison term in Thailand and additional 12 years in Nigeria. She was granted royal pardon pursuant to the Royal Decree of Amnesty to Detainees on August 3, 2005 and her jail term commuted to one-sixth of the original sentence. She ought to have been released from prison custody on February 19, 2019.  

“Mr Okpala Kingsley Chibuike (aka Oteng Samuel) was convicted and sentenced to 25 years imprisonment in 2007 for drug-related offences. He served 8 years and 5 months in Thailand and additional 11 years in Nigeria. He was granted royal pardon pursuant to Thailand’s Royal Decree of Amnesty to Detainees and his sentence commuted to one-sixth of the original sentence. He ought to have been released from prison custody since April 4, 2017.  

“Mr Yakubu Yahuza Mohammed was convicted and sentenced to 25 years imprisonment in 2006. He served 10 years of the jail term in Thailand and additional 11 years custodial term in Nigeria. He was granted royal pardon pursuant to Thailand’s Royal Decree of Amnesty to Detainees and his sentence commuted to one-sixth of the original sentence. He ought to have been released from prison custody on May 3, 2019.  

“Mr Kennedy Tanya (aka Tanya Victor Kennedy) was convicted and sentenced to 25 years imprisonment in 2006. He was granted royal pardon pursuant to the Royal Decree of Amnesty to Detainees and his sentence commuted to one-sixth of the original sentence. He ought to have been released from prison custody on May 14, 2017.

“Mr Wasiu Amusan (aka John Smith) was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in Thailand in 1998. He served 10 years imprisonment in Thailand and an additional term of 13 years in Nigeria. By the royal amnesty granted him, he ought to have been released from prison custody on July 29, 2010.”

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