Former Nigerian Ambassador to Belgium and Luxemburg, Prof. Alaba Ogunsawo and Head, Division of Security and Strategic Studies at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, (NIIA), Dr. Segun Bolarinwa, have weighed in on the recent demolition of part of the nation’s High Commission in Ghana, stating that by such action, Ghana violated international convention on extra-territoriality; but the action in no way cost Nigeria any loss of respect.
A Ghanaian businessman, in concert with some armed men had demolished parts of the residence of the Nigerian High Commission in Ghana with a bulldozer, pulling down an uncompleted structure designed to house and staff and visitors to the High Commission.
Ogunsanwo and Bolarinwa frowned at the act, which they described a serious infringement on the principles of extraterritoriality and inviolability of nations, and a violation the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961.
“The demotion violates Article 1, (1), and Articles 2 and 30, of the Vienna Convention, that state that diplomatic premises and all building adjacent to it, both in the front, back, irrespective of the ownership of such lands or buildings, belong the Embassy or High Commission that is there.
“In other words, such building, quarters, including staff quarters in any country where an Embassy or High commission is located, that is party to the convention, belongs to the country, and in this case, Nigeria.
That means the dispute or any such belongs to Nigeria, according to the Vienna Convention,” Bolarinwa said. Bolarinwa said that was why the Ghanaian President and Minister of Foreign Affairs had apologised to Nigeria even a written letter and the media, and agreed rebuild the structure for us, and promised to regularise the ownership of the land.
Ogunsanwo, Nigeria’s former permanent representative in the European Union, who currently lectures at the Department of Politics and International Relations, at Lead City University, Ibadan, said although the demolition of Nigeria’s property in Ghana was not taken by Ghanaian government, but rather by an individual did not minimize the blame.
He alluded to a similar incident in the past in Congo in respect of land allocated to Nigeria in Congo in exchange for the land allotted to Congo on Victoria Island for construction of their Embassy, stating that these kinds of problems in Africa does not happen in Europe or elsewhere.
Ogunsawo noted, however, that the incident did not imply that Nigeria is losing its respect in the international arena, and should not be classified along with the xenophobic attacks in South Africa, which culminated in the evacuation of some Africans to their homeland. Nigeria’s former Charge d’Affaires, Embassy of Nigeria in The Hague,
Netherlands, Ambassador Joe Keshi, said having been resolved, the issue cannot cause any further diplomatic row, especially after the apology and pledge to rebuild the structure.