Open letter to Abike Dabiri -Erewa on Xenophobic attack
Hon Abike Dabiri-Erewa
Nigerian Diaspora Commission
Dear Honorable Abike Dabiri-Erewa,
ISSUES OF URGENT CONCERN AFFECTING NIGERIAN CITIZENS IN DIASPORA
I write to you concerning the latest regrettable deadly acts of xenophobic terrorism unleashed on African immigrants in South Africa.
Worse still, we are disturbed to hear reports that last week, Nigerian citizens ran to the Nigerian embassy for refuge from murderous South African lynch mobs and their embassy denied them entry to safety.
As you are well aware, under international law, embassies are foreign soil. A non-citizen can run to any embassy fleeing local authorities and be safe from their jurisdiction. Julius Assange of Wiki Leaks fled to the Ecuador embassy in London and remained there in safety for over 5 years, even though he is not a citizen of Ecuador or of Britain, until the embassy handed him over to the UK authorities recently.
This shocking maltreatment of Nigerian citizens both by the hostile host nation and then by their own embassy is highly condemnable.
To make matters worse, a senior South African government official has given voice and legitimate cover to xenophobia by his inciting remarks.
Against this background, we are constrained to make the following recommendations:
Nigeria must hold the authorities of South Africa responsible for every life and property lost by Nigerian citizens and necessary compensation must be paid by the South African government
Failing that, Nigeria should revoke the reduced penalty given South African company MTN and demand payment in full of the $5.2 Billion fine for violation of Nigerian laws. The fine should be used to rehabilitate, evacuate and compensate affected Nigerians accordingly.
Failing that, Nigeria should confiscate shares in MTN alloted to South African entities and suspend repatriation of capital by MTN to various dubious offshore tax havens and to South Africa until all victims are fully compensated
Nigeria should revoke the work permits of senior South African executives in Nigeria until such a time as reciprocal safety and security of Nigerians in that country are guaranteed.
FGN should suspend usage of MTN services throughout the MDAs and port to other carriers
Nigeria should boycott the World Economic Forum in South Africa this month and any similar engagements as several other countries have already done
Nigeria should suspend the operations of South African Airways to Nigeria
Nigeria should demand the dismissal of South African deputy police minister Mkongi for his xenophobic remarks
FGN should suspend patronage of any South African branded services in the MDAs as well as ban all imports therefrom.
Nigeria should declassify and publish the details of its covert and overt support for the liberation of South Africa from apartheid.
The last is crucial as current generations including deputy police Minister Mkongi may not know or appreciate the role Nigeria played in South Africa’s freedom.
For those who do not recall, Nigeria spent millions of dollars funding the ANC in its struggle against apartheid. Nigeria’s leaders put the liberation of South Africans at the core of its foreign policy. Nigeria led a successful boycott of the Commonwealth games in London and challenged both the US and UK whose policies were soft on the racist and murderous regime. Nigeria risked a lot to maintain the high moral ground on this issue. Personally I attended university with South African students in UniJos who were there on full scholarship by the government of Nigeria. They had more benefits than me a citizen. Their flights, meals and books were paid for. I paid for mine. South Africans attended Federal Govt Colleges – elite institutions that many Nigerians could not get into.
Apart from military and diplomatic support – which are the highest intervention tools in global state craft – Nigeria educated a generation of South Africans equipping them with the intellectual capacity for leadership even ahead of independence.
Despite all of Nigeria’s strategic investments in the freedom and future of South Africa, South Africa has not reciprocated same.
You will recall years ago, when you were in the National Assembly, that the govt introduced mandatory data capture for SIM card owners and paid over 6 billion for SIM registration although this should have been paid by the telcos themselves.
It was done because of terrorism for national security reasons. Prominent elder statesman Chief Olu Falae was kidnapped by Fulani Herdsmen from his farm. In the effort to trace his kidnappers through their phone lines, it was discovered that MTN had failed to comply with the data capture law for their customers. So the kidnappers were freely calling to demand ransoms using untraceable MTN lines!
MTN was fined $5.2 billion according to the law but the fine was reduced despite undermining our national security.
Most of the Foreign telcos export much of their 3 Trillion naira turnover out of the Nigerian economy. MTN for instance through a convoluted money laundering scheme has been said to funnel the money taken from Nigeria to offshore accounts in some tax haven islands where they are out of reach of both the Nigerian and South African governments and it is unclear who they really are for the benefit of.
Similarly it is reported that the salaries of many South African MTN officials are charged to their Nigeria office even though they are based in South Africa to evade taxes in Nigeria by claiming unrelated expenses.
Nigerians are being taken advantage of by MTN and other RSA companies and I urge you to request your former colleagues in the NASS and also EFCC to investigate them accordingly.
I urge you to prevail on the South African government to comport itself in consonance with civilized norms and if it has any issues with specific citizens to follow due process as the US recently did with the arrest and extradition of suspected offenders. This recourse to barbarism is a disgrace to Mandela’s South Africa.
Finally, I wish to respond to remarks attributed to you that there are 21 Nigerians on death row in Indonesia – 20 from Anambra and 1 from Edo states.
This information is incorrect as I had cause to brief you previously on a case, when you were Chair of the House Committee on Diaspora, of a Nigerian convicted and sentenced to death on a mistaken identity as a Sierra Leonean. He is neither from Edo or Anambra states and has been incarcerated for over 15 years in Indonesia awaiting execution. My e-mail to you 10 years ago regarding this unfortunate forgotten Nigerian on death row is below. I have visited his poor mother in her village and also visited him in prison in Indonesia and proved beyond all doubt that he is a Nigerian citizen.
Thank you for your kind attention as you work to respond robustly to these distressing developments for Nigerians in Diaspora.
Emmanuel Ogebe, ESQ
US NIGERIA LAW GROUP
WASHINGTON DC USA
Subject: Nigeria on death-row in Indonesia
Date: Thu, 19 Nov 2009 10:01:01 EST
Hon. Abike Dabiri
Chair Diaspora Committee
House of Representatives
July 14th 2009
Dear Hon. Chairwoman,
FALLING THROUGH THE CRACKS: UNIDENTIFIED NIGERIAN IN PRISON ABROAD
I am part of a multi-national legal team defending a Nigerian citizen who is on death row in Indonesia. I have visited Nigeria twice in the last couple of months to determine the levels of diplomatic, legislative and other support for Nigerians who may have fallen on hard times in foreign penitentiaries.
While I am heartened to note that Nigeria is currently contemplating a treaty with Indonesia and that you have personally visited that country on a similar mission, I was particularly concerned to observe that my client’s name is not on either the death row inmates or the imprisoned inmates list compiled by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
This reveals therefore that there are more individuals who have fallen through the cracks that neither the authorities in Nigeria nor maybe even the embassies in the respective countries are aware of. Our legal team is convinced that Titus Ani is a victim of mistaken identity and is utterly undeserving of the death sentence slammed upon him.
Accordingly I urge a fact-finding mission to Kerobokan prison on the Island of Bali, Indonesia where my client Titus Ani aka Emmanuel Ihejirika is the only African being held as well as other prisons in the nation of Indonesia to inventory the true number and identity of Nigerians incarcerated or awaiting execution therein. I remain available to assist your committee with this urgent humanitarian mission.
Thank you for your kind attention.
Emmanuel Ogebe, Esq
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