By Dapo Akinrefon, Charles Kumolu And Victoria Ojeme
*One bags jail term, faces deportation
*NIDO boss wants govt to commence sensitization campaign
*Govt should make Nigeria better –Afenifere
Senior Special Assis tant to the President on Foreign Relations and the Diaspora, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, yesterday, regretted the sentencing of eight Nigerians to death by the United Arab Emirate less than three weeks after five others were arrested in the country for robbing a bureau de change.
Dabiri, who spoke to Saturday Vanguard, described the incident as unfortunate noting that it did not define the character of Nigerians.
The conviction was the climax of prosecution for the robbery attacks the gang carried out in December 2016.
They were specifically found guilty for attacking money exchange centres and cash machines across the Emirate.
The development was reported yesterday by Gulf News.
20 suspects were said to have been initially held for attacking security guards in four violent incidents at ATM points and money exchange centres across Sharjah in late 2016. Of the 20, nine were convicted.
Some of the accused confessed to their crimes while others denied the charges.
String of attacks
The gang, who were all in the UAE on visit visas were said to be highly organised and plotted a string of attacks to ambush security trucks that were transporting money boxes to ATMs in Sharjah.
In addition, the gang was said to have carried out its first robbery at a Dubai Commercial Bank ATM on King Abdul Aziz Street where Dh340,000 was stolen.
Two days after, they attacked an ATM in Al Safeer Mall in Al Nahda fleeing with Dh700,000. They also attacked an ATM in Muweilah where they stole Dh710,000.
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The fourth attack at a money exchange office near National Paints was foiled by the police.
They were reportedly arrested in record time but police confirmed that only a portion of the stolen money, almost Dh1.8 million, was recovered.
The gang members were said to have divided the money among themselves and transferred it to their country.
Suspects were taken into custody in cooperation with police in Dubai, Ajman, and Fujairah.
The gang committed the heists at the busiest times of day when streets were crowded, which added to the confusion and enabled them to escape, said police.
In each robbery the assailants struck quickly before police could arrive, the attackers, however, could not evade security cameras and police were able to recognise them through surveillance footage captured at the exchange house in the mall.
Video footage showed the suspects attacking security guards, making off with cash, and in one of the robberies slashing the hands of a security guard with a knife before running away with money boxes.
The UAE Police said the suspects had monitored and tracked the security trucks used to transport money for a period of time before launching the attacks.
What death sentence in UAE means–Dabiri
However, Dabiri, in her reaction, said death sentence in the UAE meant imprisonment without an option of parole.
She said: “Death sentence in the UAE is actually life imprisonment with no option of parole
It is an unfortunate incident but it is not an incident that defines who we are as a people. If a few Nigerians have committed a crime for which they are being punished, thousands of Nigerians are doing great in that same country and are being appreciated and celebrated
“Mr. President, who meets Nigerians every time he goes on official trips outside the country, appeals to Nigerians to always be good ambassadors wherever they are, and I must commend millions of our brothers and sisters excelling all over the world
Bad news travels fast and I appeal to the media to help spread the good news about Nigerians and not to concentrate only on the once in a while negative stories.”
FG should embark on enlightenment campaign–Mbisiogu
Also speaking to Saturday Vanguard, Coordinator of Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation, NIDO, in Guandong, China, Mr. Festus Mbisiogu, called on the federal government to commence sensitisation campaigns on questionable practices abroad across the major markets in Nigeria,
His words: “It very unfortunate and it would worsen our image in UAE. With this one, there will be more stringent policies which could affect Nigerians, who visit with good intentions. It is very unfortunate because it will affect those going for good purposes. It means that the immigration will be harsh on Nigerians coming to Dubai. I am pleading with Nigerians in Diaspora to be good ambassadors and stop battering our image.
“I learned that Nigerians are being arrested in Asian countries like Taiwan, Singapore, and Indonesia almost on a daily basis for the wrong reasons. If we don’t change we will continue to face harassment. The government should use its financial capacity to work with market leaders and speak to their members on the dangers of carrying drugs and other dubious acts. A massive campaign should be done because some of the potential couriers are ignorant. Our host countries should not treat Nigerians like those questionable persons they have arrested. Many Nigerians are doing legitimate businesses abroad. “I am calling on Abike Dabiri to take the campaign to countries where such crimes are rampant.”
FG should make Nigeria less hostile–Afenifere
On its part, pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere described the incident as unfortunate but noted that Nigeria operates a hostile environment which is diverting people’s creativity to crime.
Afenifere’s National Publicity, Mr. Yinka Odumakin said: “It is unfortunate that Nigerians are now exporting crimes to other climes and are being executed as it happened in Saudi Arabia. Yet, we can see in another end, Nigerians who are coming out to be the best around the world.
“The hostile environment at home is diverting the creative energy of people to crime and that is why all these things are happening. We hope that our leadership will do the needful and restore order in this country so that our people can stay at home and prosper instead of going abroad to do crimes.”