Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs in Nigeria, Yusuf Buba Yakub has called for the arrest of individuals involved in what it describes as “illegal invasion of the diplomatic premises” of the Nigerian High Commissioner to Ghana.
This follows the demolition of an uncompleted building on a property of the Nigerian High Commissioner by armed men in Accra June 19.
According to the head of security at the High Commission Emmanuel Kabutey, the leader of the team that came to demolish the building told them they had the backing of National Security and that “if any of us try, he will clear us off.”
In a press release signed by MHR Chairman Yakub, the committee explained that they “condemn in totality that act of trespass committed against the Nigeria Mission premises in Accra. We view it for what it as an invasion of the territory of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in foreign jurisdictions.”
It further posited that the incident amounted to “a serious breach of the Vienna Convention that sadly bears the capacity to cause a diplomatic row and escalate tension between our country and Ghana.”
Ghana’s Foreign Affairs Ministry in denouncing the attack described it as a development “which is a breach of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (VCDR, 19610).”
The committee also wondered “what offence did our High Commission in Ghana commit to warrant the flagrant display of sheer brutal force against a helpless mission seeking to bring its staff within the same precinct?”
It called on the international community to condemn the act on their Commission.
The Nigerian House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs also did not rule out the deployment of legislative options available to the outfit.
It is however added that “Ghana must face, anyhow, the consequences of its action and, indeed, inaction.”
Read full statement below:
OFFICE OF THE CHAIRMAN, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND MEMBER REPRESENTING GOMBI/ HONG FEDERAL CONSTITUENCY OF ADAMAWA STATE.
CONDEMNATION OF THE ILLEGAL INVASION AND DEMOLITION OF THE DIPLOMATIC PREMISES OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA IN GHANA AND A CALL FOR IMMEDIATE SANCTION AGAINST PERPETRATORS OF THE ACT .
1. The Committee on Foreign Affairs of Nigeria’s House of Representatives yesterday, Saturday, June 2020, received a clarion call for intervention in an ugly and condemnable incident unheard of in any diplomatic circles across the civilised world: A high- capacity bulldozer was deployed by some unnamed Ghanaian nationals to invade the Diplomatic Premises of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Accra, Ghana. From eye- witness accounts, the heavy- duty bulldozer had arrived the Diplomatic Premises at very late hours of the night and had broken through the gate of the premises, where it proceeded on a demolition spree of a set of 4 units of nearly- completed 4-bedroom block of flats, which are said to be awaiting the occupation of some members of the Nigeria Diplomatic Mission in Accra who are seeking to join their colleagues and the Nigeria High Commissioner to Ghana in the mission premises.
2. From the callousness of that action against our mission premises in Ghana, the first reaction of our Committee was to consider that a classical case of external aggression against the Federal Republic of Nigeria and a gross violation of all known Conventions and Treaties on Diplomatic Relations and Friendship between two countries. Our Committee further gathered that, while the demolition exercise lasted ,several frantic efforts were said to have been made by members of the Nigeria Mission to report what was ongoing to both the Ghana Police Service and their Foreign Affairs Ministry; but, in spite of those efforts, no reprieve, we were told, came the way of the Nigerian diplomats. We further learnt that, even when the police had finally arrived the scene of the incident over an hour later, all they had merely come to do was to shake hands with those they had been called upon to rein-in the audacity with which they were violating the rights of members of a diplomatic mission in their country!
3. After due consultations among members of our Committee and with various stakeholders in the diplomatic arena, our Committee reliably gathered that the present Nigeria Mission in Accra , Ghana, constitutes a 4-hectar piece of land that was officially allocated to Nigeria as part of the agreement to situate the mission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Ghana during the 60s in furtherance of the charter of the United Nations that then sought to promote global co- operation and friendship among peoples through the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, a global treaty that was ratified by both Ghana and Nigeria. Further inquiries also revealed that the Nigerian Mission possesses all necessary legal titles and certifications, including Site Plans, Payment Receipts and Allocation Papers, from the Ghanaian authorities in respect of the land.
4. Consequent upon the above gross violations of the articles and spirit of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations by the infamous Ghanaian nationals, who we also gather represent a corporate entity in their country, alongside their colluding allies among the authorities, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs wishes to , therefore, state as follows:
a. That we, vehemently, and without let condemn in totality that act of trespass committed against the Nigeria Mission premises in Accra. We view it for what it is, an invasion of the territory of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in foreign jurisdictions;
b.That, we also make bold to equivocally add that ,that gross violation by the Ghanaian nationals and their colluding authorities constitutes a serious breach of the Vienna Convention that ,sadly, bears the capacity to cause a diplomatic row and escalate tension between our country and Ghana.
c. That, by their action and indeed, inaction , which makes the authorities complicit in the act, the Ghanaian people violated many an article in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1949 and, therefore, must be sanctioned. For instance, Article 1(i) of that Convention, specifically, recognises, among other facts, that the Nigerian High Commission in Accra, Ghana, is the premises of the Nigerian State. The Article goes on to lend itself to that fact as is captured below :
“The premises of the mission are the buildings or parts of the building and the land ancillary, thereto, irrespective of ownership, used for the purposes of the mission, including the residence of the head of the mission ( in this case ,the High Commissioner)”.
Again, Article 22(1) of the same Convention seems to firmly corroborate the above and accentuates its importance when it further declares:” The premises of the mission shall be inviolable. The agents of the receiving State ( in this case Ghana) may not enter them, except with the consent of the head of the mission ( in this case, the Nigera’s High Commissioner to Ghana)”.
d. That, as a Parliament, we stand resolute to do everything within our powers to review, re-appraise and re- examine the relationship of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Republic of Ghana. We shall, also employ and deploy all legislative means within our disposal, including exploring and invoking all necessary rules, regulations and instruments that guide our common membership in other Parliaments, to compel the Republic of Ghana to answer for this act of gross violation and abuse of the immunities of the Nigeria mission and its staff.
5. It is against the backdrop of the above that our Committee calls on all peoples and nations of goodwill across the globe to, equally,condemn that act of aggression by the Republic of Ghana against the Federal Republic of Nigeria on its soil and to stand with us in every campaign we choose to undertake to make Ghana account for its violation of the international code of friendship against Nigeria. Instead of rising as a bulwark of protection for us ,as ,in fact,is required by Article 22( 2) of that same Convention, where it states: “The receiving State ( that is Ghana) is under a special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises of the mission against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the mission or impairment of its dignity”; Ghana did rather the opposite and the unthinkable against our nation in Accra in a place where Nigeria’s head of mission also resides within an earshot! It did not even matter to anyone in authority in that country that, in line with Article 30 of that aforementioned Convention, the private residence of a diplomatic agent shall( read, must, please) enjoy the same inviolability and protection as the premises of the mission.
6. Now, we have asked ourselves the golden question for the umpteenth time: What offence did our High Commission in Ghana commit to warrant the flagrant display of sheer brutal force against a helpless mission seeking to bring its staff within the same precinct? Nobody is saying anything in Ghana. There seems to be at present a sustained conspiracy of silence that is being deployed to wear us out. But we cannot let this one pass silently in the name of diplomacy from a big- brother nation as in the past. Our High Commissioner must be made to return home by the Executive for consultation. We also call on the Executive to invite the Ghana High Commissioner to Nigeria to provide answers to questions in our minds. It is time we stopped other countries of the world from making us the butt of their frustration and national strife.
9. Finally, since we know that the land upon which our mission sits in Ghana was officially allocated to us by the necessary Ghanaian authorities, the Land Commission, after we had fulfilled all prerequisites in the bid for acquisition of same and that there are no known litigations or counterclaims to legal titles in possession of the Nigeria mission in Accra, we may be inclined to ask whether there exist any outstanding commitments, upon which settlement the mission has reneged when ,in fact, by virtue of Article 34 of the Convention that binds our embassies to every receiving State of the world, the buildings as well as the mission staff pay no taxes, dues, development levies etc.to either region or municipality of any receiving country. The relevance of this subsisting Article makes that case unlikely. So, we are, therefore, left to rise to truly investigate what happened in Accra, Ghana and sanction that country appropriately however we can. At our own level as an integral part of the Parliament, the Committee reiterates that we shall continue our search until we receive a satisfying answer on this issue. For, to allow this issue pass, like other acts of undue and unsolicited aggressions against Nigerians and their properties in foreign jurisdictions, may as well spell greater doom for us in the future. Ghana must face, anyhow, the consequences of its action and, indeed, inaction.
Rt. Hon. Yusuf Buba Yakub, MHR Chairman.