The family of Suleiman Olufemi, a Nigerian who has been on death row in Saudi Arabia since May 2005, over the killing of a police officer, has approached the federal government for help.
The delegation, which included the aged parents of Olufemi, his siblings and sister-in-law, visted the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) office in Lagos on Wednesday.
According to a statement signed by Abdur-Rahman Balogun, NIDCOM’s head of media and public relations, Olufemi went for lesser hajj in Saudi Arabia in 2002 and was accused alongside others of being part of a mob action that resulted in the death of a police officer.
The statement explained that on arriving the airport in Jeddah, Olufemi was unable to contact his friend whom he had planned to stay with.
He was said to have later met some persons who offered him accommodation, and he accompanied them to a car wash in the Bab Sharif area of Jeddah, but got arrested alongside 12 Nigerian nationals by the authorities who came to raid the location after a mob action.
“He was sentenced to death in May 2005 following a closed trial which took place in the absence of legal or consular representation or adequate interpretation and translation facilities, ” the statement reads.
“The 12 other men, who were initially sentenced to five and seven years imprisonment, respectively, were later commutted to prison terms and lashes.”
Receiving the delegation, Abike Dabiri- Erewa, chairman of NIDCOM, said the commission, the ministry of foreign affairs, the Nigerian mission in Saudi Arabia, members of the diaspora community in Saudi Arabia, Amnesty International, as well as the house of representatives committee on diaspora have all intervened in the matter.
She, however, assured the family that the commission will continue to work with other government agencies to secure the release and return of Olufemi to his family.
“Whether he lives or dies now will be determined by the slain officer’s daughter who was 2 years old then, but now 20, and will decide to forgive or not,” Abike was quoted to have said.
She lamented that out of the suspects arrested, all were freed except Olufemi who was sentenced to death.
According to Saudi Arabian law, the daughter of the late officer who was two years old at the time of the incident, and is now above 18, will determine if Olufemi should live or die.