Diplomatic Row: Demolition of Nigerian High Commission Buildings in Accra

Mr. Onyeama

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NIGERIA – With palpable anger in Nigeria over the perceived weakness or inability of the federal government to implement reciprocal or definitive measures over last Friday’s demolition of buildings of the Nigerian High Commission, Accra, Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, on Monday met Chargè d’ Affaires of the High Commission of Ghana to Nigeria, Ms Iva Denoo to demand urgent explanations.

According to Onyeama on his Twitter handle: “Summoned the Chargè d’ Affaires of the High Commission of #Ghana to Nigeria, Ms Iva Denoo to demand urgent explanation on the recent attacks on a residential building in our diplomatic premises and reinforcement of security around diplomatic premises and staff. @NigeriaGov.”

Former Minister of Aviation, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode, had captured the anger of Nigerians when he said in a tweet: “Nigerian traders in Ghana have had their shops forcefully shut for the last 8 months. Now our Embassy in Accra has been demolished & embassy staff threatened with violence. I assure you that Ghana would not try this if Nigeria had a President or if OBJ (Chief Olusegun Obasanjo) or (General Sani) Abacha were in power.

“We may have many issues in our country but Nigerians are not filth and we are not anyone’s whipping boy or toilet paper. We are a strong noble and proud people who have a rich heritage and a proud history. We know how to stand up for ourselves and defend our own and its staff and our citizens have been subjected to indignity and humiliation and literally traumatised and terrorised. Our President must take full responsibility for all these affronts.”

Nigerians’ anger was heightened when in reaction to the diplomatic breach, the Ghanaian government only expressed regret over the demolition of the storey structure belonging to the Nigerian High Commission, which is close to Ghana Police Headquarters.

It was in this environment on Monday morning that the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs says Ghana must face the consequences of the demolition of the Nigerian Embassy staff quarters in Accra.

Chairperson of the Committee, Alhaji Yusuf Buba, said in a statement that what happened was an external aggression that infringed the International Rights of Nigeria.

Buba called the demolition a gross violation of all conventions and treaties on diplomatic relations and friendship between both countries.

Buba lamented that members of the Nigeria Mission reported what was ongoing to both the Ghana Police Service and their Foreign Affairs Ministry, yet “no reprieve, we were told, came the way of the Nigerian diplomats. We further learnt that, even when the Police finally arrived at the scene, they could not do anything.”

The House Committee chairperson explained that the present Nigeria mission in Accra, constituted four hectares of land that was officially allocated to Nigeria as part of the agreement, stating that Nigeria possessed all necessary legal titles and certifications, including site plan, payment receipts and allocation papers from the Ghanaian authorities.

Calling the forceful entrance of the High Commission compound and the demolition as act of “trespass,” Buba stated: Ghana “violated many articles in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1949 and, therefore, must be sanctioned. We shall deploy all legislative means, including exploring and invoking all necessary rules, regulations and instruments that guide our common membership in other parliaments, to compel Ghana to answer for this act of gross violation.”

This was relative to Onyeama’s reaction on Sunday where he said in a tweet: “we strongly condemn two outrageous criminal attacks in Accra, #Ghana, on a residential building in our diplomatic premises by unknown persons in which a bulldozer was used to demolish the building. We are engaging with the Ghanaian government and we demand urgent action to find the perpetuators and provide adequate protection for Nigerians and their properties in Ghana.”

Nigeria has always reacted weakly to consistent attacks on its citizens and even diplomatic compound in the country.

This is the second time a row has erupted between the two countries in one year. On January 03, 2020, Nigerians and their property were severely attacked by the Ghanaians.

Then the Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied reports of a diplomatic row between Nigeria and Ghana after reports emerged that the Nigeria High Commission was being forcefully evicted from the diplomatic property in Accra.

And with the forceful deportation of Nigerians, the federal government, in the mood of brotherly neighbor, Nigeria had protested the mass deportation of at least 723 of its citizens between 2018 and February 2019. The Nigerians were accused of illegal stay, cybercrime, prostitution and other social vices. The deportation was sealed, not with a reciprocal measure, but with a reconciliatory meeting between the Nigeria Immigration Service and its Ghanaian counterpart over the deportation of four Ghanaian nationals by Nigerian authority.