The national integrity and pride of our beloved Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa was recently desecrated and brought to disrepute in neighbouring Ghana.
Last weekend’s demolition of a residential building in the Nigerian High Commission in Accra was not only a big insult to Nigeria but also a gross violation of Article 22 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
According to the convention, a foreign mission’s property in any country is inviolable and must not be entered by anyone without permission.
The building in question was being constructed to house staff and visiting diplomats to the High Commission.
The alleged owners of the property linked to the Osu Traditional Authority in Accra, came with a detachment of armed security officials and bulldozers and pulled down the structures.
Efforts by Nigerian officials to alert the authorities failed until the aggressors had completed their mission. This development is quite unfortunate, sad and condemnable.
Given the long diplomatic ties that exist between Nigeria and Ghana, it is unthinkable that such aggression would be visited on our country.
Although, the Ghanaian President, Nana Akufo-Addo, has apologised to Nigeria over the incident, I think the Nigerian government must not handle this matter with levity.
It must be handled with all seriousness considering that the image of the country within the international community and the African sub-region is at stake.
Besides apologizing to Nigeria, we expect the Ghanaian authorities to swiftly bring all those behind the incident to book no matter how highly placed.
Secondly, we expect the Ghanaian authorities to quickly rebuild the edifice pulled down without further delay.
Going forward, the Ghanaian authorities must know that every High Commission is a representation of the country in question in that foreign land and as such, adequate security must be provided for both the officials and the property housing them.
Any attack on an embassy or consulate is an attack on the country concerned.
Nigeria as a leader within the African sub-region must begin to assert herself henceforth and must not be allowed to be trodden under foot for whatever reason.
Nigerians doing business in Ghana had come under attacks in the past.
Sometimes in August 2018, the Inter-Governmental Task Force constituted by the government of Ghana, in its bid to regulate retail trade, arrested and detained 37 Nigerian traders and locked up about 10 shops in Tip Toe Lane at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, Ghana, due to the alleged failure of the traders to regularise their business concerns as prescribed by the local law and the inability to provide necessary documents such as passports, resident/work permit, among others.
Also in December 2019, Nigerians doing business in Ghana came under attacks over moves to rid the Ghanaian markets of foreign traders.
Elsewhere in South Africa, Nigerians doing business there had equally come under xenophobic attacks with their shops looted and some of them beaten up in the process.
Not long ago, Nigerians were maltreated and thrown to the streets by the Chinese authorities.
These attacks on Nigerians and Nigeria are too many and it is time the federal government did something drastic to protect the wellbeing of its citizens abroad.
Ambrose Ighali writes from Ughelli, Delta State.