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 move by O.K. Chinda, Fred Agbedi, Bitrus Laon, Abdulsalam Dasuki, Felix Nwaeke, Kelechi Nwogu, Guger Onwusibe, Mark Esset, Rodney A, Nkewonta and Patrick Umoh at plenary on Thursday.
Chinda noted that Okumah Chika, a Nigerian legally residing and working in Benin, was allegedly arrested by the Republican Police (DGPR) on April 18, 2023.
He raised a concern that Chika, an administrative worker at ESFAM University in Port Novo, had 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,” said the lawmaker.
Chinda added, “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.”
According to the lawmaker, the illegal detention of Chika and other Nigerians is mainly orchestrated and influenced by their Beninese schoolmates, workmates and acquaintances “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 have made their life hellish as they are perpetually living in fear, worry and confusion,” said the legislator. “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 of Benin “gains from Nigeria, the mistreatment of Nigerians living “over there is not a reflection of appreciation for Nigeria’s benevolence,” Chinda pointed out.