The Head of Security at the Nigerian High Commission, Emmanuel Kabutey, said the leader of the demolition team who demolished a building belonging to the Nigerian High Commission in Accra, the capital of Ghana, on Friday threatened to attack them.
A Ghanaian online medium, Joynews, whose correspondent witnessed the demolition, reported that the men threatened to shoot workers of the high commission if they interfered in their operation.
The medium quoted Kabute as saying, “They told us that they had “the backing of National Security” and that “if any of us try, he will clear us off.”
The structure which was under construction was meant for the accommodation of the mission staff and visiting diplomats to the High Commission.
It was partially demolished by a Ghanaian businessman who claimed that the mission encroached on his land.
The unidentified man was said to have visited the place last week, presenting evidence that he was the real owner of the land; he reportedly returned to the site on Friday with armed men who supervised the demolition.
The acting High Commissioner, Michael Abikoye, who was initially present during the demolition was said to have later gone into hiding.
But a source in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the FG had complained to the Ghanaian government about the incident.
The official said, “The foreign affairs minister was shocked by the incident and he has reached out to the Ghanaian government for an explanation. The minister may also summon the Ghanaian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Amb. Rasheed Bawa, for clarifications. But we are confident the issue will be resolved amicably.”
While condemning the demolition on Sunday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said the FG had reached out to the Ghanaian authorities on the incident.
He stated, “We are engaging the Ghanaian Government and demand urgent action to find the perpetrators and provide adequate protection for Nigerians and their property in Ghana.”
Reacting to the development, Ghana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration described the demolition as a breach of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961, noting that investigation was ongoing to unravel the facts and bring the perpetrators to book.
“The government will not relent on its primary obligation to guarantee the safety of members of the diplomatic corps in Ghana,” the ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
This is the second time the Nigerian mission was facing harassment on its diplomatic property.
In December 2019, Ghana forcefully evicted the Nigerian High Commission from its property in Accra, and reallocated the property on 10 Barnes Road, Accra, to Amaco Microfinance.
The re-allocation was carried out by Ghana’s Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources with the consent of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration on August 26, 2019, without informing the Nigerian High Commissioner to Ghana.
On December 27, the High Commissioner, Abikoye, received a letter from solicitors to Amaco Microfinance Company Limited, Accra, directing the mission to vacate the diplomatic property.
Four days later, the company broke into the mission in an attempt to take over the building.
But Ghana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the FG failed to renew the property following the expiration of the lease, adding that “the property reverted to the state in compliance with Article 258 of Ghana’s 1992 Constitution.”