Nigeria’s interior Minister, Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (retd) on Friday said 400 Nigerians are serving jail terms for various offences in South Africa.
Dambazau said this at a joint news conference in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the visit of Nigerian delegation to South Africa.
Dambazau and his Foreign Affairs counterpart, Geoffrey Onyeama, had on Monday led a delegation to South Africa over the incessant xenophobic attacks on Nigerians living there.
He said he had a meeting with the South African Home Affairs Minister, during which he discussed general issues, particularly on migration.
Dambazau said they also discussed Nigerians involved in some criminal activities.
“These are in the minority, because we also have Nigerian professionals who are contributing positively to the development of their host country.
“However, that is not to say that they should fold their arms and not to do something about somebody involved in crime.
“But in doing that, we emphasised that due process should be upheld in terms of the assumption of innocence, being proved guilty and in terms of fair hearing.
“I understand that there are about 400 Nigerians who are in the South African prison for various offences,” he said.
The minister said their offences included prostitution and drug peddling, among others.
He said the offenders would finish their jail terms in South Africa because there is no prisoner exchange arrangement between Nigeria and South Africa.
He, however, said efforts would be made to ensure that such arrangement is put in place soon.
Dambazau said they also met with the Nigerian community in South Africa.
“When we met with the Nigerian community, we also emphasised that those who are involved in criminal behaviour should not be allowed to spoil the good name of Nigeria.
“So, they have that moral responsibility to report where necessary,” he said.
The minister said the issue of passport challenge was also tabled at the meeting, with a promise that it would be resolved.
“There were complaints that the passport machines were old and from our record, we understand that they were supplied in 2007
“I then promised them that arrangement would be made to ensure that all passport machines are changed to modern ones. We are going to streamline the issuance of passports,” he said.