Nigerian Ambassador to Thailand, Nuhu Bamali, has said close to 1,000 Nigerians are in prison in the Asian country of Thailand. The envoy made the shocking revelation, yesterday, at the Africa Gems and Jewellery Exhibition and Seminar, in Abuja.
He did not give details of their offences. However, advised Nigerians travelling outside the country to always follow the proper channels.
“One area that was left out by the minister was the consular issues. I am very delighted that all the key stakeholders are here in this forum. It’s a very serious issue for Nigeria because in Thailand alone, we have close to 1,000 people in jail, which is very embarrassing to our country. So, I am craving the indulgence of the organisers of this event to counsel genuine investors, so that, at least, whenever they are traveling outside Nigeria, they should go through the proper channel,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the federal government said although the nation’s gemstone export is put at about $3 billion annually, the sector had been a major source of money laundering in Nigeria.
Ambassador Bamali, who disclosed this urged the federal government to address the consular issues involved in exportation of precious minerals. He explained that it is only through proper regulation of what is exported and repatriation of funds generated that Nigeria can reap the benefits of economic diversification.
He further assured on facilitation of partnership between genuine Nigerian investors and Thais; whom he described as advanced in gems and jewelleries.
Also speaking, Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, said in spite of the huge potentials in gemstone mining, phenomenal loss of revenue and damage to the environment remained major concerns.
“Consequently, in past years, the gemstone sector had largely been a vehicle for money laundering, with the average dollar value of Nigerian gems exported put at over $3 billion dollars annually. The local mining industry for gems remained at its primitive level of shovel and digger and Nigeria’s vast untapped gemstone resource is not being optimally exploited for the benefit of Nigerians,” the minister stated.
He, however, said the current reforms in this segment of the mining industry had been ensuring proper organisation of the gemstone sector from prospecting to exploration, mining, processing and marketing of gemstones in Nigeria, with emphasis on regularising the activities of the artisans who mostly engage in it.