Juliet Akoje in Abuja
The House of Representatives has mandated its Committees on Foreign Affairs, Human Rights and Diaspora to investigate the incessant mistreatment of Nigerians living in the Republic of Benin and report back to the House for further legislative action.
This resolution followed the adoption of a motion on the illegal incarceration of Okumab Chika and discriminatory arrests of Nigerians in the Republic of Benin, which was moved yesterday by Hon. O.K. Chinda, Hon. Fred Agbedi, Hon. Bitrus Laon, Hon. Abdulsalam Dasuki, Hon. Felix Nwaeke, Hon. Kelechi Nwogu, Hon. Guger Onwusibe, Hon. Mark Esset, Hon. Rodney A, Hon. Nkewonta and Hon. Patrick Umoh at plenary.
Chinda noted that Okumah Chika, a Nigerian who legitimately and legally resides and works in the Republic of Benin is alleged to have been arrested by the country’s police service, the Republican Police (DGPR) on April 18, 2023.
He raised concern that Chika, who after his undergraduate academic programme in the Republic of Benin, worked as an administrative staff at ESFAM University in Port Novo, has been incarcerated at the Akpro-Missérété Prison since April 26, 2023, over allegations of internet fraud.
“After a series of investigations, which confirmed that Okumah Chika is legally employed by ESFAM University and that his job schedule includes processing admissions, facilitating transcripts, academic guidance and similar duties, he is still being held in detention by the Republican Police authorities.
“Many Nigerians in the Republic of Benin who are legal residents, engaging in lawful enterprises are victims of unlawful and discriminatory arrests and detention by the Republican Police.”
The lawmaker further stressed that the unlawful and illegal detention of Chika and other patriotic Nigerians are mostly orchestrated and influenced by their Beninese colleagues, work-mates and acquaintances that are envious of the hardworking, resilient and enterprising spirit of Nigerians.
“The incessant arrests and hounding of Nigerians living and working in the Republic of Benin has made their life hellish as they are perpetually living in fear, worry and confusion, if urgent and immediate steps are not taken to address this issue, it may affect the age-long diplomatic relations between Nigeria and the Republic of Benin.
“Considering the economic benefits which the Republic gains from Nigeria, the mistreatment of Nigerians living over there is not a reflection of appreciation for Nigeria’s benevolence,” the federal lawmaker said.