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Nigerian on 18-year-old death row in Saudi Arabia: Family pleads for  clemency

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The family of Suleimon Olufemi, a Nigerian, who has been on death row in Saudi Arabia for 18 years for being part of a mob that killed a police officer in the country, has pleaded for clemency and forgiveness for their son from the Saudi authorities.

Suleimon, who went for a lesser hajj in Saudi Arabia in 2002,  was accused alongside others of being part of a mob action that killed a Police officer in the kingdom 18 years ago.

The family delegation led by Mr Bode Olufemi, the younger brother of Suleiman, made appeal when they visited the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) Lagos office.

The delegation included the aged parents of Suleiman as well as his siblings  and sister-In-law, among others.

Tears flowed freely as they pleaded passionately for the Federal Goverment’s intervention in saving the life of their son and brother.

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 Suleimon should live or die.

Receiving the delegation, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman/CEO, NIDCOM, described the incident as unfortunate as out of 11 suspects, all freed, only Suleimon was sentenced to death.

She told Suleimon’s family that the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, NIDCOM, the Nigerian Mission in Saudi  Arabia,  some members of the Diaspora community in Saudi , Amnesty International as well as the House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora had intervened in the matter.

Dabiri-Erewa reiterated her advice to Nigerian youths to avoid getting into trouble when they travelled out, and bwondered why a young , promising man who went for Umrah, would get involved in a mob action which resulted in the death of a Saudi citizen and law enforcement officer.

“The Commission will work with
other government agencies to facilitate the return of Suleimon Olufemi, ” Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Balogun, the Head of Media and Public Relations, said in a statement emailed to Persecondnews.

Olufemi, an electrician, was born in Lagos on 20 April 1978, and embarked on Umrah to Saudi Arabia in 2002.

On arrival at the airport in Jeddah, Suleimon called his friend, who he was scheduled to stay with in Jeddah, but the phone number was not going through, so he went to a place called  Karantina where he met some Nigerians when he could not locate his friend .

Some days after Suleimon arrived in Saudi Arabia, he followed the Nigerians that offered him accommodation to a car wash in the Bab Sharif area of Jeddah, where many African nationals worked as car cleaners.

But unfortunately, that day, there was a mob action which resulted in the death of a police officer, authorities came to raid the location, and Suleimon Olufemi and other 12 Nigerian Nationals were among those arrested.

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 12 other men, which were initially sentenced to five and seven years imprisonment respectively were later commutted to prison terms and lashes.

Both the 80 years old Yavimaku Olufemi, the father of Suleimon and mother, Kikelomo,  appealed to the Saudi authority to temper justice with mercy and release their son, while begging Nigerian government to help them out as they are eager and prayerful that they will set eyes on their son and hope  to reunite with him before they die.

 

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