By ‘Emeka Ugbogu
The family of Suleimon Olufemi, a Nigerian, who has been on death row in Saudi Arabia for 18 years, have appealed for clemency and forgiveness for their son from the Saudi Arabian authorities.
The family reiterated this appeal when they visited the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, NIDCOM, office in Lagos through Mr Bode Olufemi, the younger brother of Suleiman.
In a Press release signed Abdur-Rahman Balogun, Head of Media and Public Relations, NIDCOM, the delegation included the aged parents of Suleiman, as well as his siblings and Sister-In-Law, among others.
Suleimon, the statement read, went for a lesser hajj in Saudi Arabia in 2002, and was accused alongside others of being part of a mob action that killed a Police officer in the kingdom 18 years ago.
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.
Chairman/CEO, NIDCOM, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, received the delegation and described the incident as unfortunate as out of 11 suspects, all freed , only Suleimon was sentenced to death.
She informed the worried delegation that the 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 have all intervened in the matter.
Dabiri-Erewa reiterated her advise to Nigerian youths to avoid getting into trouble when they traveled out, wondered why a young , promising man who went for Umrah , will allow himself to be dragged into a mob action that involved many people.
The NIDCOM boss assured the family that the Commission will work with other Government agencies to facilitate the return of Suleimon Olufemi to his family.
Suleimon 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 commuted 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 tamper 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.
– Dec. 31, 2020 @ 23:55 GMT /