The Global Society for Anti-Corruption (GSAC) has said no fewer than 500 Nigerian citizens are languishing in various prisons in Togo.
It therefore called on the federal government to intervene and ensure that the Nigerian citizens get justice.
According to the group’s President, Mr Frankline Ezeona, during a press briefing in Enugu about his team’s recent fact-finding visit to Togolese prisons, said many Nigerians there had been awaiting trial for up to 10 years.
He said most of the Nigerians found themselves there due of ignorance, while others were victims of cyber crimes, Today NG reports.
He said, “What we discovered is that many of them got into businesses like network marketing and didn’t know they were banned in that country. Some of them are genuine businessmen and women, who got into trouble with indigenous and what have you. None was discovered to have committed any capital offence. But they got them and threw them into the prison and for years, they don’t have dates in courts.
“So we think that the federal government should intervene in their matter. Let some of them be released or extradited to face their prison terms in Nigeria. We are asking the Nigerian government to see how some of them can be released and granted amnesty based on stipulated law – on age, pregnancy, health and what have you.
“For some released, we are asking that they be provided with relief materials or compensation because, it was discovered that, many of them are not guilty from the offences they were charged.”
The GSAC’s legal team on the fact-finding tour led by Chidinma Udegbunam, disclosed that the organisation intervened following several distress messages it received from Nigerian prisoners in Togo.
According to her, of the 13 prisons in Togo, the one in Lome alone was housing 300 Nigerian prisoners, noting that their situation was pitiable as they were lumped in already congested facilities.
She said, “There are ones that have spent nine years in prison for misdemeanor. We wanted to look at their files but were not allowed to do so. The legal system operation in Togo is different from that of Nigeria. There, when one is accused of crime, he is being taken as guilty until proven otherwise. Anyone arrested is treated as a convict. It is their system and their people know it is working for them. The administrative system is centralised.”
Narrating the ordeal of one Jerry Odiesa, a Nigerian from Delta state, whom she said had served 11 of his 20 years conviction over cyber related crime, Udegbunam stated that what took him to prison was ignorance.
She further said, “We think the Togolese government should speedy up trial of these Nigerians and not allow one who is a suspect stay for more years than they could have spent, because justice delayed is justice denied.”