On the Demolition of Nigeria’s High Commission Building in Ghana
On the night of Friday 19 June 2020, armed men stormed the Nigerian High Commission in Ghana and pulled down its building.
In diplomatic circles, and indeed in international law, the action is streng verboten, for a country’s high commission — you may say its embassy — in akin to that country, in another country, inviolable.
To drum that further, a criminal might seek refuge in an embassy or high commission a la Edward Snowden but the host country dare not intrude into the high commission or embassy to arrest him. Agents of the host country can only come in to get the criminal with the permission of the embassy or high commission. It is that simple.
But what happened in Ghana?
The demotion provoked outrage among the Nigerian people, and justly so. The reaction of the Nigerian government was singularly scandalous, really, the stertorous borborygmus of an impotent wimp.
The Nigerian government summoned the Ghanaian envoy, and Nigeria’s foreign affairs minister, Geoffrey Onyema, bawled on Twitter: “We strongly condemn two outrageous criminal attacks in Accra, #Ghana, on a residential building in our diplomatic premises by unknown persons in which a bulldozer was used to demolish the building.“
Can you please give a round of applause for the minister and his principal? Your reaction to an insult this egregious is to go on a twitter rant? Who, exactly, were “unknown persons”? Why pretend you are unaware the Ghanaian authorities were privy to the demolition? Is Nigeria so emasculated and so impotent that it cannot stand and defend its sovereignty?
Here, I cannot but agree with Max Nordau that there are degrees even degradation, and Nigeria is at its lowest.
Equally degrading, besides the demolition, was the state of the building in question before the bulldozers moved in. Overgrown with weeds, the building was an unbeautiful advertisement of privation and poor taste — not a place any country, least of all this pompous “giant” of Africa, should be proud of.
From the Ghanaian end, the argument for the demolition has been that the land on which the buildings stood does not belong to the embassy. Assuming this is even true, there are diplomatic assumes to resolve this without storming the place like inebriated commandos and pulling it down.
Nigeria’s reaction to the demolition is annoyingly asinine. If the Ghanaian authorities elect to spit on the letters of international law and diplomacy, we ought to show them we can be “mad,” too. No be only una sabi craze. A decisive action like expelling the country’s ambassador from Nigeria would have been more appropriate.
Small countries spit on the face of Nigeria daily, an embarrassing affirmation of a lack of competent leadership in Nigeria.
I understand the Ghanaian government has apologized. Who needs your apologies, though? You ought to have down the right thing at the outset. The demolition remains a bad precedent. Tomorrow, another country might spit in Nigeria’s face and then “apologize.”
Ghana ought to have been whipped into the arms of decency and decorum. Sadly, Nigeria is missing the leadership that can effectuate this. We earnestly need to change the change they sold us in 2015. That change is a chimera.