Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
Speaker of House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, yesterday, described the demolition of the Nigerian embassy building in Ghana as a direct attack on the sovereignty of the country.
Gbajabiamila, who stated this during a meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, called for retaliatory measures against those who trampled on the diplomatic rights and privileges of Nigerians and Nigeria in foreign land.
The speaker noted that attacks on Nigerians abroad has become a regular occurrence, stating that many countries in Africa were in the habit of hurting Nigerians, while the country looked the other way in the name of African brotherhood.
“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.”
Gbajabiamila added “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.”
Earlier, Onyeama told the lawmakers that diplomatic efforts were on to resolve the issue and appealed to the lawmakers to sheath their swords.
“Ghana and Nigeria have a special relationship that has subsisted since independence. So one would wonder 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.
“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,” the minister stated.