Sen. Mohammed Saleh (CPC- Kaduna) says the deterioration of ethical values in the country is responsible for the increasing number of Nigerians involved in criminal activities abroad.
He spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Abuja.
NAN recalls that the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs recently informed the Senate that not less than 776 Nigerians were serving various jail terms in foreign countries.
Saleh described the involvement of more Nigerians in illegal activities abroad as “a reflection of the environment of general lawlessness in our country’’.
He noted that political leaders and public officers had continued to perpetrate illegality and abuse of the laws of the country with impunity.
“If Nigerians leave the shores of this country and go outside to go and misbehave, it’s a reflection of what is happening in Nigeria.
“They didn’t just pick that culture from somewhere.
“Look at the environment in Nigeria, there is general lawlessness. From the time a child is born, he sees crime all over the place and he sees that criminals go free.
“He has learnt this here and when he goes outside he thinks that other societies are like this because he knows no better.
“He thinks that when he goes outside that it would be okay for him to commit a crime that there will be a way out just like there is a way out always in Nigeria.
“So he goes there and immediately falls foul of the law.’’
Saleh urged leaders at all levels to embark on a reformation of society’s ethical values through exemplary leadership driven by honesty, transparency and accountability.
He said, however, that the task of reforming the Nigerian society was an onerous one that could not be left to government alone.
“There will be a positive transformation of our values if our government can give us good governance and ensure proper enforcement of extant laws.
“Let people be punished for the crimes that they commit irrespective of their position in the society. The fight against corruption and other illegal activities should not be selective.
“But if we say it’s only government that will do it, then we have missed the point. I think it’s on the whole Nigerians. Every Nigerian has a contribution to make in this respect.’’
The lawmaker also urged government to provide sufficient funding for Nigeria’s diplomatic missions abroad to enable them to attend to Nigerians who were harassed for offences they did not commit.
“While in a foreign land you also have a choice to behave well or not to behave well.
“If you chose not to behave well then you are responsible for the consequence.
“The only thing our missions can do is to make sure that you are not maltreated. So the best the government can do is to strengthen our consular services.
“Ensure that our embassies have enough vehicles to travel far away because Nigerians are not all living in the same town where our embassies are.
“Is the Federal Government providing money for such? You can see in 2012 budget and 2013 budget, not a single kobo is provided to our missions for consular service.’’
Saleh also appealed for education of Nigerians on the laws and regulations of foreign nations before they travelled outside the country to help them to operate within the confines of those laws.