700 Nigerians in Thai prisons, others dead
By Staff 9 hours 11 minutes ago
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
Calabar—Bishop Frank Owali of the World Overseer of Hebron-Harvest International Ministry, with headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand, has raised alarm over alleged hostile treatment and harassment of Nigerians by the authorities of Thailand.
The cleric, who fled the country, alleged that at the time of his departure no fewer than 700 Nigerians have been arrested and clamped into detention in various towns in and around Bangkok. He said there were no effort by officials of Nigerian Embassy in the country to wade in the matter.
Owali said following insecurity, unprovoked harassment, sustained assault, arrest and extortion of money from Nigerians by Thai security officials, several Nigerians had decided to go underground.
He said: The whereabouts of about five Nigerians pastors, including the clerics in charge of The Throne of Grace Church, New Life International Ministry, and of one of my pastors are unknown.” He alleged that they were among those penciled down by the Thai police for arrest or extra-judicially execution.
Bishop Owali said that the Thailand legal system was so draconian that it did not give room for suspects to defend themselves, as many Nigerians were said to have been in prison custody for several years without appearing in court for trial.
SOS to Jonathan
He appealed to President Goodluck Jonathan and the Nigerian Minister for Foreign Affairs to intervene in the matter to stop further unlawful killing and incarceration of Nigerians in Thailand, stressing that several Nigerian business enterprises and churches had been shut down by the Thai police.
Lamenting their plights, he regretted that since the arrival of the Nigerian Ambassador to Thailand in Bangkok, Mr. Umaru Sulaiman, the envoy had never visited Nigerians imprisoned without trial. He said the Nigerian community in Bangkok was rebuffed by the envoy when they asked him to appeal to Thai authorities to allow one Mr. Obi Peter, who was arrested and detained on trump up charges, to have access to medical care, as the inmate’s health going bad.
Mr. Peter, said to be a former President of the Nigerian Community in Thailand, reportedly died in prison custody due to lack of medical treatment, and a peaceful protest by Nigerians at the embassy led to the arrest and detention of some of them.
The death of Mr. Peter, Mr. Obi Parker, Mr. Henry Ogbimi and other Nigerians in prison custody was said to be the cause of the peaceful protest. He said they were accused by the Nigerians embassy of breaching the peace of Thailand, leading to the arrest and detention of many of them.