The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora Affairs, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said on Tuesday that a 72-year-old grandmother, 13 women and 443 other Nigerians are currently languishing in jail in Brazil for drug-related offences.
Dabiri-Erewa, at a media briefing in Lagos, said the findings were made during a fact-finding mission to the South American country last week by the committee which included its Deputy-Chairman, Betty Appiafi and a member, Abdulrahman Terab.
She explained that a Non Governmental Organisaton, Youths Without Borders, run by Taiwo and Kehinde Afolabi residing in Brazil, had earlier raised concern over the rising cases of Nigerian women serving jail terms for drug-related cases in Brazil.
The lawmaker explained that the grandma, named Fausat Aosede, said she was assisted to Brazil by one Patricia for medical treatment.
Aosede was quoted to have claimed that she was asked to deliver a bag to someone in Nigeria when the treatment was no longer feasible but was arrested in September last year at the airport in Brazil when drugs were discovered in the bag.
According to Dabiri-Erewa, the committee was able to get an NGO, named IITA in Brazil, to place her on house arrest instead of prison.
She added that the Director, Department of Immigrations, Ministry of Justice, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Dr. Izaura Miranda, who said the laws of the country had to be obeyed, noted that the lawyers would act speedily on her case since she was yet to be tried.
Miranda also noted that the country's law does not allow individuals above 70 years to be remanded in prison.
Other women arrested for drug cases are Lara Salami (62), Theresa Ezezue (60), Vivian Ajibua (57), Moronranri Afolayan (48), Vivian Etuwe (31), Ajibola Olajumoke (36) and Amina Yussuf (51).
Dabiri-Erewa added that only three among the women denied involvement in the act while the remaining admitted committing the offence.
Lamenting that such development was not good for the country's image, the lawmaker added that it was important for Nigeria to address the issues plaguing the country to make it a pride of place for its nationals.
She said, ''The most important thing is that we have to put our country right. The 72-year-old woman was said to have a visa which expired the day after she got to Brazil. There were no dry eyes among the inmates when members of the committee visited them at The Sao Paulo Women's Prison.
"Poverty is not an excuse to get involved in illicit trade.''