Embassy Demolition: Gbajabiamila Calls for Reciprocity

But Minister Preaches Peaceful Diplomacy, Indemnity

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Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of House of Representatives, Nigeria

The House of Representatives speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila has described the demolition of Nigeria’s embassy building in Ghana as a direct attack on Nigeria as a sovereign nation, saying that an embassy of a country is an extension of her territory and sovereignty.

The Speaker who stated this while addressing the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffry Onyema, on Tuesday in Abuja, also called for retaliatory measures against those who trample upon the diplomatic rights and privileges of Nigerians and Nigeria in a foreign land.

According to the Speaker, the situation has become a recurring decimal in the nation’s foreign policy engagements, adding that many countries within Africa have taken the liberty of hurting Nigerians, while Nigeria looks the other way in the name of brotherhood.

“We all have a responsibility to make sure that we uphold the honour and integrity of the country that we serve.

The Hon. 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 an apology”, Gbajabiamila said.

He lamented further saying that “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 colour of their law.

“Reciprocity is a legitimate instrument in foreign policy. And we can employ it, because 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, but we want to show diplomatic maturity of asking for an 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.

“Because 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 Speaker added.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffry Onyema had earlier informed the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Chaired by Rep. Yusuf Bubba from Adamawa that diplomatic efforts had gone into resolving the current issue.

He also appealed to the lawmakers to sheath their swords saying that Nigeria and Ghana are regional brothers and 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 why should we 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.

“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 project will be on the Ghanaian government

Rep. Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim from Yobe, in her contribution, described the situation as “one insult too many, given that Nigerian traders have been serially attacked and their belongings have taken over by Ghanaians with no punitive measure either from the Ghanaian govt, and not this demolition which was done with utmost impunity”.

“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.

According to her, “it is an insult of consequential implication”.

Another lawmaker urged that the Minister carries out due diligence to investigate the claim that the said building was meant for an Event Center owned by a Nigerian Biz man who was hiding under the protection of the Nigerian Embassy to usurp another person’s property.

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