•As China assures on military co-operation
From ADETUTU FOLASADE-KOYI, Abuja
Senate President David Mark has pleaded with Beijing to release 490 Nigerians languishing in Chinese prisons. He begged the Chinese leader, Mr. Zhang Dejiang to review the cases of 366 Nigerians in Chinese prisons, 120 awaiting trial and four already sentenced to death under the transfer of prisoners arrangement.Nigeria and China have pledged military co-operation especially in the training and retraining of security personnel in tackling terrorism and disaster response capabilities.Under the arrangement, both nations would exchange programmes for military officers and students of Defence Colleges.
These were part of the high-points of the bilateral talks between Mark and President of the Chinese Parliament, Mr. Dejiang who also doubles as the Chairman of the National Peoples Congress (NPC) in Abuja yesterday.
Senator Mark had requested his guest to prevail on his government for assistance to Nigeria in the mass production of military and police hardware as well as aircraft’s spare parts production centre in Nigeria. The Senate president also requested China to support Nigeria’s bid for the UN Security Council seat as non- permanent member from 2015 and as a permanent member from Africa in an expanded UN Security Council.
Besides the agreed exchange of parliamentary visits between the National Assembly and the Chinese parliament, Senator Mark demanded that China reciprocates Nigeria’s friendly visa regime by honouring Diplomatic Notes and simplifying visa procedures for Nigerians.
Although the trade and commercial ties between both countries have increased with a deficit of N270 billion against Nigeria, Mark requested that the imbalance be addressed by encouraging Chinese government and industrialists to increase investments in the non-oil sector in Nigeria as well as offering duty waiver on Nigerian exports.
Mr. Dejiang noted that China runs a friendly administration and upholds the sanctity of the rule of law, but would table Mark’s requests before his home government for a possible review especially on those convicted on criminal offences. He promised co-operation with the government and people of Nigeria in all areas that would improve her economy and general welfare of the people .
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