THE House of Representatives has faulted the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, on the claim that Ghana has apologised to Nigeria on the demolition of buildings of the Nigerian Embassy in the country.
The House, while dismissing the call for diplomatic negotiations by the minister, asked that Nigeria should seek retaliation against Ghana over the demolition, which the parliament described as an attack on the country.
Onyeama had appeared before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs in Abuja on Tuesday, where he was grilled over the demolition of the buildings.
Earlier, the minister told the lawmakers that there was an invasion, and buildings on the premises of the embassy were demolished by non-state actors.
He also said the time it took for the Ghanaian authorities to respond to distress calls made by officials at the embassy “is extremely troubling and troubling.”
Onyeama further said the traditional ruler in the area claimed that the property belonged to him, adding that there was no justification for the leader to take the law into his own hands.
He also informed the House that the President of Ghana had directed that decisive and severe measures be taken to settle the matter.
Onyema added that Nigeria had sought the security of the embassy, its members of staff, and all Nigerians in Ghana, stressing that Nigeria also demanded reparations as quickly as possible, among other demands.
Onyeama also said the Ghanaian President had directed that all sealed shops belonging to Nigerian traders be opened to continue the business.
Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, however, dismissed the apology the minister said had been tendered to Nigeria by Ghana, stating that Nigeria must avenge the attack on its sovereignty by Ghana.
The Speaker said, “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 particular 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 a 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 an apology or ‘we will look into it’?”
He also said the US and the United Kingdom would not have taken it lightly with Nigeria if their embassies tampered within Nigeria.
The Speaker said, “It underscores the point that makes it even worse when we were told that this is the second time it is happening (in Ghana). It happened the first time and they got away with it. And of course, they did it again.
“They get away with it this time, they will get away with it the third time. It is just human behaviour. So, we have established a pattern and what we get is an apology, and ‘we will look into it.’ I don’t think that should suffice at this point.
Gbajabiamila, therefore, urged Onyeama to agree with the House that it was a dispute between two countries “because that embassy represents Nigeria. Whoever did that did it under the colour of law.”
Wednesday 24th of June 2020