Killings: Nigeria protests, Guinea-Bissau apologises

By IndepthAfrica
In News
Oct 10th, 2013
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Armed security men with one of the Nigerians suspected to have kidnapped a child in Guinea-Bissau ... on Tuesday.

Guinea-Bissau has apologised to Nigeria over the killing  of  three of her citizens by  a mob  in Bissau.

The apology was made shortly after Nigeria protested the Tuesday incident to the Guinea-Bissau authorities.

Before this, President Goodluck Jonathan had   during Wednesday’s  Federal Executive Council meeting directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to order the Nigerian Ambassador in Guinea- Bissau  to take up the matter with the  authorities of that country.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prof. Viola Onwuliri, told our correspondent that her Guinea-Bissau counterpart, personally  visited the Nigerian embassy in Bissau where she tendered the apology.

The Agence France Presse  had reported that the three Nigerians were killed after the disappearance of a young boy on Tuesday morning in   Bissau.

Onwuliri said,  “The report we have is that aggrieved citizens attacked the Nigerian embassy with clubs, stones and other dangerous objects. We have protested to the government of Guinea-Bissau. Their (Guinea-Bissau) government has apologised.

“We have also asked for full scale investigation so that the perpetrators will be brought to book.

“Their foreign minister has visited our embassy to apologise. We believe the investigation will reveal the identity of the perpetrators and their motives. We have sent a strong message and I believe they will take it very strongly.”

She added that    some suspects who are not  Nigerians  had been arrested in connection with the kidnapping.

The minister said, “They have arrested some suspects and they are not Nigerians. We feel sad that some of our nationals were  killed in the imbroglio.”

Onwuliri, who prayed for the   repose of  the  souls of the victims and commiserated with  their families, advised Nigerians “ to steer clear of problem areas wherever they are in foreign lands.”

  “We feel sad because this shouldn’t be happening between African countries. This is a country (Guinea-Bissau) we have been helping to find its feet. I know the government of Guinea-Bissau is saddened by the development,”  she added.

The minister  said since  full-scale investigation into the incident  had already commenced,    the remains of the victims would not be brought to Nigeria now.

She also said the embassy had started taking stock of its destroyed property.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati,  had  told   State House correspondents  that the “unfortunate incident”  was duly addressed at the  FEC  meeting  in Abuja   presided over by Jonathan.

He stated the Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Alhaji Nurdeen Muhammed,  under whose purview issues relating to African countries fall,  briefed the FEC on the development and the action so far taken by the ministry.

Abati said, “The Minister of State, Foreign Affairs briefed the council on the unfortunate incident that led to the death of at least one Nigerian in Guinea-Bissau and said the situation is not acceptable. The government has protested the development.

“The ministry had already directed the Nigerian Ambassador in Bissau to take up the matter with the Foreign Ministry of that country. That is a further confirmation that this government react proactively wherever any Nigerian has any issue in any part of the world.

“It will interest you to know that Nigeria maintains a robust relationship with our neighbouring countries. That matter was addressed at the council today and Nigerians can be assured that the issue will be resolved quickly.”

The National Assembly and the Nigeria Labour Congress  advised the Federal Government to demand full explanation of the killing.

The  Senate Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma – Egba,  said, “Extrajudicial killings must be condemned .This cannot be less so when Nigerians are killed extra-judicially in foreign lands.

“In this case, one of the victims was photographed as being in the custody of the Guinea Bissau Police.How did the mob get him if the police were  not complicit?”

The Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on the Foreign Affairs, Linda Ukeje,  said Nigeria would not gloss over the  killing  of her citizens in a bid to attack  its mission in  Bissau.

 The lawmaker  said,”When people come and invade your mission then it is assumed that they have invaded Nigeria.

“We are going to look at it very, very, strenuously.  It is not going to be glossed over; we  are going to open up diplomatic conversation between the Nigerian government and the Guinea-Bissau government.

“We must find out why this happened and what are the consequences; steps must be taken to bring the perpetrators of this heinous crime to book.”

The  Nigeria Labour Congress which  also  condemned the  killings,  expressed disappointment at  the attitude of the Federal Government towards Nigerians living outside the country.

Acting General Secretary of the NLC, Mr. Chris Uyot, said  government needed to do a lot more than it was doing to secure Nigerians.

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