The controversial demolition of an uncompleted residential facility for the Nigerian High Commission in Accra, has sparked a diplomatic row between the Ghana and Nigeria.
While Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema described the action as an “outrageous criminal attack of a diplomatic premises,” Nigeria’s House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs describes it as “an invasion of the territory of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in foreign jurisdictions.”
Following a businessman’s claim of ownership to the land on which the Mission is located, unidentified armed thugs were said to have invaded the premises with a bulldozer on Saturday night to demolish the uncompleted residential facility.
The event has attracted wide condemnation from both Nigerians and Ghanaians, with many questioning the alertness and capacity of Ghana’s security apparatus in preventing the invasion.
Although Ghana’s Foreign Ministry has denied government’s involvement in the demolition, and assured the conduct of investigations to identity and punish the culprits, Nigeria is demanding immediate answers.
“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,” said the statement by the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, signed by its chairman, Yusuf Buba Yakub.
In condemning the act and demanding answers, the Committee insists that “Ghana must face, anyhow, the consequences of its action and, indeed, inaction.”
In furtherance, the Nigerian government is said to have summoned Ghana’s High Commissioner to Nigeria, Rashid Bawa, for questioning.
But Ghana’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, in its statement, condemned the action and admitted the breach of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (VCDR, 19610).
“While expressing regrets over the incident, the Ministry assures the diplomatic community in Ghana and the Nigerian High Commission in particular that Ghana remains a law-abiding country that upholds the principle of the rule of law. The government will therefore not relent in its primary obligation to guarantee the safety of members of the Diplomatic Corps in Ghana,” the statement said.
In December last year, the lease of the property on No.10 Barnes Road in Accra on which the Commission is located, was said to have expired.
Nigeria’s Foreign Ministry indicated then that High Commission was exploring the possibility of renewing the agreement with the Ghanaian authorities.
Ghana and Nigeria have enjoyed strong friendship, although a number of recent events, such as the row between Ghanaian and Nigerian retailers, continue to test the resilience of their cooperation.
By Edmund Mingle/ www.adrdaily.com