The unwarranted assault on a Nigerian diplomat, Abdulrahman Ibrahim, in Indonesia, is reprehensible. The unprovoked and condemnable attack on the Nigerian has further underlined the need for Nigeria authorities to ensure that its citizens abroad are accorded the deserved respect in their host countries. Ibrahim was reportedly manhandled by Indonesian immigration officials while searching for irregular and illegal migrants in the country.
Footage of the incident showed how the diplomat was held down in a vehicle by several men. In fact, one of the officials put his hand on the diplomat’s head and pushed it back against a seat. Two of the men held his hands and pinned him down in the backseat of the car, while another freely assaulted him. In the heat of the attack, the victim reportedly shouted, “I can’t breathe; my neck, I can’t breathe.”
No matter the reasons behind the gruesome attack, the action was inhuman and an assault on Nigeria’s sovereignty. There is no justification whatsoever for the treatment meted on the Nigerian diplomat.
The attack demonstrates how the Indonesian authorities treat Nigerians with disdain. Of recent, Nigerians have fallen victims of such ill-treatments in other countries, including some in Africa. The mal-treatment of the diplomat by Indonesian authorities is unacceptable.
The assault on Ibrahim is reminiscent of the George Floyd’s treatment in the United States (US) by racist white policemen, which led to the death of the black American. It is sad that the Nigerian diplomat was treated as if he was a criminal. We join Nigerians and other well-meaning global citizens to condemn in strong terms the barbaric action of Indonesian officials
Therefore, the assault on the Nigerian diplomat is against international law and the 1961 Vienna Conventions governing Diplomatic and Consular Relations between States. Article 29 of the Convention specifically states: “The person of a diplomatic agent shall be inviolable.”
By the provisions of the Vienna Conventions, Ibrahim is not liable to any form of arrest or detention. As a diplomat, Indonesia is expected to treat him with due respect and shall take all appropriate steps to prevent any attack on his person, freedom or dignity. By the attack on the Nigerian envoy, Indonesia has violated this rule. This is, indeed, one offence Nigerian government must not take lightly. Although Indonesia Ambassador to Nigeria has apologised over the incident, it is not enough. Let Indonesia sanction the erring and overzealous security agents. At the same time, the Federal Government should send a strong signal to the Indonesian authorities that it will not tolerate the ill-treatment of its diplomat or any Nigerian citizen.
The Federal Government must take steps to rigorously and robustly defend the interests of Nigeria and Nigerians anywhere in the world. Nigeria deserves an unreserved apology from the government of Indonesia for the uncouth conduct of its immigration officials.
It is good that the Nigerian government has urged the Indonesian government to take appropriate sanctions against the immigration officials involved in the assault. We commend the Federal Government for every action it has taken in handling the matter. The recall of the Nigerian envoy to that country for consultation, for instance, is quite in order. However, government should not leave any stone unturned in ensuring that justice is done in the matter
This is one case that must not be swept under the carpet. The way Nigeria treats the case will go a long way in determining how its citizens and diplomats are treated by other nations. The government should not tolerate any maltreatment of Nigerian citizens. It should take a cue from the US which will never allow any country to toy with its citizens. How a citizen is treated abroad is a reflection of how the home state is perceived by other countries. The Indonesian debacle provides an opportunity for Nigeria to send a clear signal to other countries that the era of treating its citizens with disdain in their countries of residence is over.