Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, has disclosed that the employer of Ikem, a Nigerian student beaten to death in Philliphines, has been charged with murder, along with five others.
According to a statement issued by Head of Media, Public Relations and Protocols Unit, NiDCOM, Abdur-Rahman Balogun, she made the disclosure at the investigative hearing of the Senate Joint Committees on Diaspora and Inter Governmental Affairs and Foreign Affairs, when she appeared before them.
She explained at the session presided over by Senator Victor Umeh, said Ikem, who was brutally murdered, the Philliphines authorities have declared the employer, who has since been on the run, wanted.
Dabiri-Erewa said that Nigeria Embassy had informed the Department of Foreign Affairs in the Philippines and also reported the case to the Inspector General of the Philippines National Police.
The Embassy, she added, had maintained regular contact with the line police station at the location; with a strong directive to go for the investigation.
Dabiri-Erewa said the investigating police team on the case are done with evidence building and presented the case to the Mandaue city prosecuting Department for action; who has evaluated it and deemed it fit for murder case filing.
“They have filed the case and issued a warrant of arrest to the boy’s employee and five other suspects; they are charged for murder, human trafficking and operation of illegal business in the Philippines”, she said.
The NiDCOM boss who gave the committee, a copy of the pictures of the suspects, said the pictures have been forwarded to all exits in the Philippines to prevent them from leaving the country.
Dabiri-Erewa stressed that the case will be held as soon as the major suspect, still at large, is arrested.
The NIDCOM boss also clarified that a viral video by a man posted on social media recently alleging that 250 Nigerians are slated for killing in Ethiopia was totally false and untrue.
She said the official information received is that 160 Nigerians were serving various jail terms under very poor conditions and that over 90 per cent of them were for drug related offences.
She told the Committees that in order to decongest the prisons, amnesty was granted to them but majority of them went back and still committed the same crime.
The NIDCOM boss said that a Memorandum of Understanding was entered into awaiting Ministry of Justice in Nigeria to sign its own side of the deal to enable prisoners swap or to continue their jail term in their respective country.
In addition, she explained that most of those caught are those transiting from Addis Ababa to other countries of the world
Other stakeholders who appeared before the Committees were Hon. Amb. Enya Francis , Director, Consular representing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the sister of the deceased, Blessing Essien, President National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS) Mr John Ogar and Country Representative Commonwealth Students Association (CSA), Mr Nwanba Chidubem.
Speaking in the same vein, the Director Consular in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Enya Francis said they are in close contact with Embassy and on top of the matter.
Francis said the corpse is yet to be buried as it will cost between N31 million to N35 million to repatriate and bury the corpse in Nigeria as against N10 million to N15 million to cremate it in the Philippines.
He said the cost of keeping the corpse at the funeral home is accruing N30,000 on daily basis, hence the need to expedite action on the investigation and take appropriate action.
Speaking on behalf of the family of the deceased, Blessings Essien, Ikem elder sister, said he was the only son of the family and in-line with Igbo tradition, it would be an honour to bring the body back to Nigeria for burial.
She therefore appealed to the Federal Government through the Senate Committees to assist the family in repatriating the body back to Nigeria for a befitting burial.
The President of National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS) in the Diaspora, John Ogar said the group was troubled by the dastardly and wicked act in which late Ikem was killed and seeking for justice.
He and Country Representative of Commonwealth Students Association (CSA) Nwanba Chiduben, said apart from protest they have done to seek justice for the death of Ikem, they have written to Governor of Anambra State, Chukwuma Soludo to assist the family in bringing back the corpse home for burial while appealing to some foreign airlines plying the route to see it as Corporate Social Responsibility in flying the corpse home.
Umeh thanked all the stakeholders for all their efforts, saying the investigative hearing was sequel to a motion he moved on the floor of the Senate and the joint committees were mandated to investigate the matter.
He assured that the Committees will ensure that all those involved will be prosecuted and face the music, saying the matter would never be swept under the carpet.
Ikem, a Nigerian student based in Philippines, was on October 22, 2023 tortured by a group of Chinese co-workers over a minor disagreement with his supervisor.
“They tied his hands up, covered and tied his mouth and beat him until he gave up the ghost”, an eye witness had said in a statement.