Four hundred and fifty-seven Nigerians convicted or awaiting trial for drug trafficking offences are being held in several Brazilian jails, the chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said yesterday.
The Nigerians include a 72-year-old woman, Fausat Abosede; Lara Salami (62), Theresa Ezezue (60), Vivian Ajibua (57), Ngozi Dike (51), Amina Yusuf (51), Moronranti Afolayan (48), Benedicta Nneka (42), Stella Odilli (37), Ajibola Olajumoke (36), Folake Lawson (35), Vivian Etuwe (31) and Amaka Isilabo (28).
Abosede, while recounting her ordeal to members of the committee who were on a fact-finding mission to the country, said that she was brought to Brazil for treatment, but when the treatment was not forthcoming, she decided to return to Nigeria.
On her way back, she was given a bag to deliver to a certain Pastor Patricia when she got to Nigeria but was arrested at the airport when drugs were discovered in her bags.
Dabiri-Erewa told newsmen at a briefing that the committee was mulling arrangements that will enable the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to situate its operatives at Brazilian international airports to identify and check activities of Nigerian drug traffickers. She charged relevant government agencies to intensify enlightenment on the dangers and other effects of drug trafficking.
She added that the officials of the country had informed the committee that a draft agreement had been sent to the Nigerian foreign affairs officials on exchange of prisoners but, since then, no response had been received on the subject. She however vowed that the committee would revisit the said proposal with a view to making an agreement between the two countries.
Meanwhile, a Nigerian, Mrs Doris Chibuko, has been identified as one of those killed at Oikos University, Oakland, California, when a lone gunman opened fire on students and teachers Monday inside the small Christian university located in East Oakland.
Doris Chibuko, 40, was studying for a nursing degree at the university and was just two months away to her graduation when she was killed by One (pronounced oh-knee) Goh, a disturbed former nursing student at the university, who later turned himself in to the authorities at a Safeway superstore located at the South Shore Centre in Alameda.
Doris, an Enugu State indigene, had worked as a lawyer in Nigeria and had moved to the US in 2002 with her husband, Efanye, after their marriage the same year.
The deceased and Efanye had three kids of ages 3, 5, and 8, according to friends of the family.
Several Nigerians resident in the Bay Area trooped to the Chibuko family home located in San Leandro Hills to commiserate with the family after news filtered out that she had been killed in the deadly mass shooting regarded as Oakland's worst in over 20 years.
The Alameda County Coroner's Office had earlier announced that other dead victims hailed from Korea, Nepal, the United States and the Philippines.
The identities of six of the victims were released. The identity of the seventh is being withheld until the victim's next-of-kin is located and informed of the death, according to the Coroner's office.
The names of the victims are Judith Seymore, 53, from San Jose; Lydia H. Sim, 21 from Hayward; Sonam Chodon, 33, from El Cerrito; Kim G. Eunhea, 23, from Union City; Doris Chibuko, 40, a Nigeria residing in San Leandro and Tshering Butia, 38, from San Francisco.
Meanwhile, our correspondent gathered that the suspect, Goh, is still being held by the police.
All efforts to have the official comments of the Nigerian Ambassador to the United States, Prof. Adebowale Adefuye proved abortive as all calls made to his phone were not answered.
US, Nigeria partner against drug cartel
In a related development, the United States government is collaborating with Nigeria in dislodging drug cartels operating in the African continent. The areas of cooperation being considered include training, legal framework, exchange of intelligence and logistics.
This was disclosed when a delegation of staff of the United States House Subcommittee on Africa, Health and Human Rights with the management visited the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in Lagos.
The United States Congressional staff members Gregory Simpkins and Ms. Algne Sajery led by the United States consul-general, Mr. Joseph Stafford, were received by the director-general of the NDLEA, Mr. Femi Ajayi.
Ajayi described the visit as mutually beneficial. "The agency is pleased to work with the United States. We have enjoyed your support over the years and we need more assistance against drug cartels to counter new techniques of drug smuggling. The team has taken note of our challenges as well as capacity gap. This visit will further empower us to strengthen our strategies and advance the United States drug control policies," Ajayi stated.
Gregory said the United States government wants to see how best it can further partner with Nigeria in the anti-narcotics campaign. Gregory said "Drug trafficking is a global problem affecting countries of the world. We are here to observe your operations and see where and how we can assist.
Africa is of concern to the United States because the activities of drug cartels in the region also affect us. The NDLEA is getting more efficient and result-oriented but we want to sustain and seek further capacity-building for operatives. Nigeria is one of our critical partners because of the volume of cargoes at the sea ports."
Stafford said, "The United States government is happy with the efforts of the NDLEA and will continue to assist and work with Nigeria."
The visiting team is scheduled to visit other African countries before returning to the United States.
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