The House of Representatives has criticized the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, for his “poor handling” of the demolition of buildings of the Nigerian Embassy in Ghana.
Onyeama had appeared before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs in Abuja on Tuesday, where he was being questioned over the demolition of the buildings. The House rejected the minister’s call for diplomatic negotiations and instead suggested retaliation by reciprocating the demolition of Ghanaian buildings in Nigeria.
During his presentation to the house, the minister explained to the lawmakers that some non-state actors invaded the embassy premises and proceeded to demolish the building. He said the traditional ruler in the area claimed that the property belonged to him, but there was no justification for the leader to take laws into his hands.
Onyeama knocked the Ghanaian authorities, saying the time it took for them to respond to distress calls made by officials at the embassy “is extremely troubling and troubling.” However, he assured the reps that the President of Ghana had directed that decisive and severe measure be taken to settle the matter.
Onyema said the legal status of the property will be looked into before further actions will be taken.
He added that after the incident, Nigeria had immediately inquired and assured the safety of the embassy, its members of staff, and all Nigerians in Ghana.
Most importantly, the minister said the Government of Ghana is very remorseful and had apologized profusely for the invasion.
Responding to Onyeama’s presentation, House of representative speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila dismissed the apology the minister said had been tendered to Nigeria by Ghana. He stated that Nigeria must reciprocate the attack on its sovereignty by Ghana.
The speaker said, “We all have the responsibility to make sure that we uphold, very simply, the honour and glory of the country we serve. Honourable minister, let me commend you for your efforts so far; what you’ve done and what you’ve been doing.
“I think we should look at this thing from the premise that the Nigerian state was attacked. It was not a building that was demolished, no; the Nigerian state was attacked. I think if we look at it from that premise, we will begin to understand or underscore the importance or gravity of what we are dealing with.
“In terms of immunity and inviolability, in terms of diplomacy, it also extends to property. We are not just talking about the states. It is trite that the embassy of any country is actually the state – a sovereign location in that, particularly foreign country. That is why if there is any problem in Nigeria today, all the Americans will run to the American Embassies to seek shelter because you cannot even move near there.
“So, from that point of view, we need to address this in that context that Nigeria was attacked. I’m not interested in the land dispute, it is not an ordinary land dispute. It is not! It has now metamorphosed into dispute between two countries, not by landowners.”
Gbajabiamila said if it were the United States’ embassy that was demolished in Ghana, “do we think the US would be talking about apology or ‘we will look into it’?”
He reiterated that this action would not be taken lightly in foreign countries and called for the nation to strike back in the same manner.