Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has alleged that its leader, Henry Okah and other Nigerians in South African jails are also victims of xenophobic attacks, even while in prison.
The group in a statement on Saturday signed by Jomo Gbomo, alleged that the Nigerians are regularly singled out for harassment, on account of their nationality or placed in solitary confinement, by the South African prison officials.
It lamented that Okah is dying at the Korkstad Prison in the Kwa-Zulu Natai Province of South Africa, where he has been locked up in solitary confinement due to xenophobis.
MEND therefore affirmed support for the National Assembly’s decision to visit that country and engage its parliament on the attacks on Nigerians resident there.
The statement read in part, “We welcome the decision of both houses of parliament to send delegations to visit South Africa to assess the situation on the ground.
“While we commiserate with the thousands of Nigerians who may have suffered one form of attack or the other, we are constrained to draw the attention of the National Assembly delegation to other variants of xenophobic attacks which are not in the public domain.
“There are hundreds of Nigerians in South Africa, who are serving various prison sentences or awaiting trial. From reports available to us, many of these unfortunate Nigerians are subjected to xenophobic attacks, as they were regularly singled out for harassment, on account of their nationality or arbitrarily isolated in solitary confinement, by the South African prison officials.
“Henry Emomotimi Okah is a Nigerian, who is currently serving term at Korkstad Prison in the Kwa-Zulu Natal Province of South Africa. The accounts of a few individuals who have been privileged to visit him in prison are gory and unsavoury.
“He is permanently locked up in solitary confinement; a Korkstad Prison policy, which is based purely on xenophobia and jungle justice. The grim reality is that Henry Okah and many of his fellow compatriots in South African prisons are dying in prison.
“We therefore call on the Nigerian parliamentary delegation to find time to also visit various prison facilities in South Africa where they will indeed, be confronted with the real victims of xenophobia in South Africa”, MEND said.
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