– Says It’s an attack on Nigeria’s territorial integrity
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila declared that Nigeria must take appropriate retaliatory measures against Ghana and against all those who trampled on the diplomatic rights and privileged of Nigeria and Nigerians in foreign lands
The Speaker who spoke at a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama stated that Nigeria cannot continue to fold its hands while its citizens and assets in other countries are being attacked by citizens of their host country, while Nigeria look the other way, playing the big brother.
Mr Gbajabiamila, who was reacting to the demolition of a property under construction at the Nigeria High Commission in Ghana said such an attack and demolition was a direct attack on Nigeria as a sovereign nation, adding that an embassy of a country is an extension of her territory and sovereignty.
He decried the persistent attacks on Nigerians in other African countries, which has become a recurring decimal in the nation’s foreign policy engagements.
The Speaker stated that many countries within Africa have taken the liberty of hurting Nigerians, while Nigeria looks the other way in the name of brotherhood.
In his words, “We all have a responsibility to make sure that we uphold the honour and integrity of the country that we serve. The Minister has explained what happened and what they have done or doing. But I think we should look at it from the premise that it was the Nigerian State that was attacked, not just a building.
“In terms of visibility and otherwise of the property, I want to say that it is trite to understand that all countries exist through their Embassies in other countries. So for that reason, Nigeria was attacked by Ghana because if anything happens in Ghana, it’s the Nigerian Embassy that Nigerians will run to and get protection due to the diplomatic immunity that it should enjoy.
“So let’s face it. If the American Embassy was demolished, do you think the US will be asking for apologies and indemnity? Or the UK, Canada or any other Western country? They won’t ask for apology.
“But we have established a pattern here, because from what I heard, this is not the first time it is happening. It happened before and we said we will look into it and then they apologized and we let it go.
“Others may say that this is a sibling rivalry that is going on between Nigeria and Ghana, and we did nothing, but we must take a stand, because this has gone beyond court processes as the Minister said.
“This diminishes Nigeria as a State because it’s not a land dispute between Nigeria and any individual, but a diplomatic dispute between Nigeria and Ghana which should be handled accordingly, because the person who did this, did it under the cover of their law.”
Mr Gbajabiamila opined that “reciprocity is a legitimate instrument in foreign policy and we can employ it. If such had happened here in Nigeria, the individual will first approach the court to enforce his rights, and I want to believe that Ghana is a democratic country where laws apply, but this person didn’t use the law to do this. So it’s purely a predetermined attack on the Nigerian State.
“So we should move away from this idea of gentleman big-brother whom everyone can just trample on and nothing is done.
“South Africa did it, we kept quiet. Ghana has done it, and still doing it and we want to show diplomatic maturity of asking for apology and claim damages. If this had happened to the British High Commission in Ghana, all hell would have been let loose. I’m telling you this as a matter of fact.
“It was Nigeria that was attacked and not Nigerian land or property. But whatever the minister decides to do as far as responses are concerned, the House is here to support you in whatever way necessary”.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema had earlier informed the Committee on Foreign Affairs, headed by Rep. Yusuf Bubba that diplomatic efforts had gone into resolving the issue and appealed to the lawmakers to sheath their swords.
The Minister said Nigeria and Ghana are regional brothers, stressing that the Ghanaian government will bear the cost of rebuilding the demolished structure.
“Ghana and Nigeria have a special relationship that has subsisted since Independence. So one would wonder that why we should now start having this kind of animosity. But we are working to see that these issues are resolved and that Nigerian traders are allowed to continue trading since Ghana is not the target of Nigeria’s border closure”.
He added, “Regarding the issue of demolition, we are working with the Ghanaian authority to see that the demolished property is rebuilt because the land in question belongs to us and the cost of the rebuilding the project will be on the Ghanaian government
Former Minister of State for Foreign Affair, Rep. Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim described the situation as “one insult too many, given that Nigerian traders have been serially attacked and their belongings taken over by Ghanaians with no punitive measure from the Ghanaian government.
She said the demolition was carried out with utmost impunity.
She said “Hon. Minister, I think it’s about time we took a decisive action to serve as a deterrent to others who may want to trample upon Nigeria and Nigerians. It is an insult of consequential implication”.