Ex-diplomats slam Indonesia, CSOs ask FG to sever ties with S’East Asian country

NIGERIANS, including ex-diplomats, expressed their anger on Tuesday over a trending video showing some Immigration officials assaulting a Nigerian diplomat in Jakarta, the Indonesian capital.

The diplomat, who was apparently in pain while the unyielding Indonesian immigration officers pinned his head to the seat of a car, was heard shouting “I can’t breathe.”

A former Nigerian Ambassador to Mexico, Ogbole Amedu-Odeh, described the attack as a violation of the Vienna Convention, adding that it was too early to know the reciprocal action the Federal Government would take.

He stated, “The (Foreign Affairs) minister has already come out firing from the hip; so, the Indonesians know they need to do the needful because what their officials have done against the Nigerian foreign service officer is antithetical to the letter and spirit of the Vienna Convention of Diplomatic and Consular Rules of 1961 which state expressly that the person of a diplomat is inviolable.

“For them to subject the diplomat to such act is against the letter and spirit of that convention which is essentially the bible of diplomacy. Nigeria is treading cautiously by calling for a marching intervention of the Indonesian authorities or else, Nigeria may be compelled to take measures.

“What measures? We do not know. The recall of our ambassador to Indonesia is a flowery way of registering our dissatisfaction with the way and manner the issue has been handled by Indonesia. Let us watch and see what would happen.”

Another retired diplomat and former Director of Trade and Investment, Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Rasheed Akinkuolie, also faulted the assault on the diplomat, noting that the first step to take in this case was for Nigeria to protest strongly to Jakarta which had been done.

According to him, though it might be too hasty for Nigeria to break diplomatic relations with Jakarta, the FG needed to have all the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident before taking a hard-line posture against Indonesia.

Also, civil society organisations on Tuesday called on the Federal Government to ensure that actions were taken to address the attack on a Nigerian diplomat in Indonesia.

The groups made their positions known in separate interviews with The PUNCH.

The Convener, Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution, Dare Ariyo-Atoye, called on the Federal Government to follow the matter up with all manner of seriousness.

He described the development as embarrassing.

Ariyo-Atoye said, “The Federal Government should escalate this to the United Nations and to other international organisations who deal with diplomacy. The Foreign Affairs Minister should also summon the Indonesian ambassador in Nigeria. The ambassador here should understand that Nigeria would not take such disrespect.

“But the Nigerian government has always presented her citizens as worthless before other countries and that is why we are disrespected across the world. Let them (Indonesia) unmask the perpetrators, or if possible, we should sever diplomatic ties for the time being.”

Also, the Convener of Initiative for Global Change, David Owaboye, said Nigeria should sever relationship with Indonesia to serve as a deterrent to countries where Nigerian citizens are being treated with disdain.
Meanwhile, former chairman, National Human Rights Commission, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, said, “What happened to him (diplomat) is at least cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, if not outright torture. It is a forbidden form of treatment under international law.

“Nigeria has a right and prerogative of diplomatic protection under international law. But if there are no consequences for abuse of your (Nigerian) citizens, then it is likely to happen again.”


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