Over 1 ,000 Nigerians are languishing in Thai jails, Nigeria's Ambassador to Thailand , Mr . Nuhu Bamali, has said.
Bamali said this while speaking at the Africa Gems and Jewellery Exhibition and Seminar in Abuja on Wednesday.
He said, "Over 1,000 Nigerians are currently in jail in Thailand. We need to encourage young Nigerians leaving the country to do so through proper channels".
Although Bamali did not give reasons for the jail terms being served by Nigerians in the Asian country, a former Ambassador of Nigeria to Thailand, Mr. Chudi Okafor, had in 2013 said that one out of five Nigerians living in Thailand was serving a jail term for drug related offences.
The envoy also disclosed that the mission had been able to secure an agreement that allows Nigerians serving jail terms to be released at a point so that they could go and complete their terms in the country.
Bamali said Nigerians in the mining and gemstone industry could find worthy partnership in Thailand as the country had made advances in the sub sector.
Speaking at the event, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr . Kayode Fayemi, said the country lost more than $3 bn per annum through illegal export of gemstones.
He said,“In spite of the huge potential in gemstone mining, phenomenal loss of revenue and damage to the environment remain major causes of concern.
"This is due to the uniqueness of the occurrence of gem deposits and the quantity to value per quantity advantage of gemstones which make illegal activities and smuggling rampant, thus the inability of the sector to deliver on expected economic outcomes".