By John Okeke and Abosede Musari (Abuja)
AS African nations come to terms with and try to find a lasting solution to xenophobic attacks against their citizens in sister-states, the recent brutal physical assault by an Equatorial Guinea policeman on a Nigerian diplomat has raised fears that a solution may not have been found for the problem.
The Nigerian diplomat, Noah Ichaba, Agredo Admin del Consulado de Nigeria of the Consulate General was allegedly beaten up by a policeman, although he possessed his official documents and permits issued by the Equatorial Guinean authorities.
In protest against the beating, the Consulate-General of Nigeria in Bata, has written the authorities of Equatorial Guinea’s Ministry of External Affairs, to demand that attacks on Nigerians and Nigerian diplomats in the country should stop.
An apology was also demanded for the attack on the diplomat.
Ichaba holds the Diplomatic Identity Card Number 399/2014 which is valid through December 16, 2015, but the document was allegedly not recognised by the policeman who demanded for his resident permit.
The policeman was said to have tried to tear the card but could not because it was laminated. He was only able to squeeze it.
“As a show of disregard for the status of the diplomat and his human rights, the police went to drag him out of the taxi and physically assaulted him, causing him facial wounds.
“This unfortunate incident demonstrates the unfair treatment which even our nationals often receive at the hands of policemen and it is now being extended to diplomats which is a violation of diplomatic immunity accorded diplomats by Vienna Convention.
“The Consulate-General of Nigeria wishes to express its outright dismay for the action of the policeman and demands for an unreserved apology and the host authorities guarantee of its diplomats’ safety in the country”, the statement read.
Giving a personal account of his ordeal, Ichaba said: “It was in the day, early morning of Saturday 16th May 2015 when I was on my way to Cinco Market when the driver stopped at a traffic point around Cruce Ntobo roundabout .
“Suddenly an Equatorial Guinea policeman emerged at about 09:50 hours local time and started speaking to the driver in Spanish, after which he turned to me and I told him that I do not understand Spanish but that I speak English.
“My excuse did not impress him as he raised his voice in anger.
“The best I could do was to remain silent , watching , wondering in my mind what the shouting and anger were all about.
“At this point, the third occupant who was in the back seat of the car, tapped my shoulder and exclaimed (Documento! Documento! Paper!)
“Understanding what he meant, I brought out my Diplomatic Identity Card issued to me by the Foreign Ministry of the Federal Republic of Equatorial Guinea and showed it to the policeman.
“Instead of taking a look at my ID card, he spoke to the driver who in turn demonstrated by the use of his hands, that I should get down.
“I asked to know why since Mercado Cinco is my final destination.
“By this time, the irate policeman had opened the door of the car where I sat , demanding that I should come out and I asked: ‘ Why are you arresting me?’
“I went on to open my ID card to show him my photograph, telling him that I am a Nigerian and that the Diplomatic card was issued by the Equatorial Guinean government .
“In anger, he snatched it from my hand, squeezed it and gave me a slap on my face. He pulled me out of the car and began to hit and kick me ,using his head, hands and legs in the full glare of the multitude of onlookers.
“When he noticed that I was losing strength and become weak as I struggled again and again and fell on the car, he decided to hold back his temper.
“His temper had reduced somewhat and from that point, I was able to make contact by putting calls across to officers of the Consulate and they rushed to the scene of the incident.
“To say the least, the policeman has demonstrated fact that a foreigner has no right as he beat me mercilessly to his satisfaction before leaving me with a bruised face, swollen mouth and general body pain.
“It is now obvious from the sudden and violent way that my assailant attacked me , that my saving grace was that he had no gun.
“If he had one, nothing could have stopped him from pulling the trigger and shooting me dead,” Ichaba added .
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