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, younger brother of Suleiman.
The delegation which included the aged parents of Suleiman, as well as his siblings and sister-in-law, among others, couldn’t control their tears, as they pleaded passionately for the life of their son.
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.
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, Hon. 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 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 advice to Nigerian youths to avoid getting into trouble when they travelled 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 Sulaimon Olufemi to his family.
Suliamon 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, Suliamon 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 Suliamon 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 Suliamon 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, who 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 Sulaimon 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.