Barely two weeks after a Nigerian diplomat, Abdulrahman Ibrahim, was mistreated in Jakarta, Indonesia, by that country’s immigration officials, another diplomatic row is brewing between Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) following harassment of Nigerian diplomats in the central African country.
LEADERSHIP gathered that the burgling of the Nigerian Embassy in Kinshasa, the Congolese capital, by a diplomatic police officer deployed to the Mission and the illegal seizure of a Nigerian diplomatic property in the choice area of Gombe, Kinshasa.
A source in the Nigerian mission in that country who made this known also disclosed that the burgling of the Embassy and the illegal seizure of the Nigerian diplomatic property were carried out by officials of DR Congo, even as the government of the host country turned blind eyes to the atrocities.
It was learnt that all attempts by the Nigerian Ambassador to the DR Congo, Ambassador Omar Suleiman, to get the authorities of the host country to investigate the desecration of the Embassy and return the seized property has been rebuffed by the government of that country.
The source in the Nigerian Embassy who did not want his name in print said, “In March 2020, there was an attempt to set the Ambassador’s residence ablaze in the middle of the night. The culprit was apprehended and handed over to the police, but to date nothing has come out from the police concerning the young man that was arrested or the event.
“On 17th August 2020, the Embassy was burgled by one Ilunga Ndaye, the policeman deployed to guard the Chancery. The culprit was apprehended and handed over to the police. On arrival at the police station, he was freed by the police. The authorities claimed that he escaped and till date, nothing has been said about him or the incident.
“On 24th August 2020, one Congolese named Kadija Bakaja, accompanied by armed policemen, invaded 38/40 Avenue Lemera in Gombe, Kinshasa, DR Congo. With the active connivance of the government of DR Congo, she illegally took over the property which is duly owned by Nigeria and she is still there till this moment, one year after the invasion of the Nigerian property and the denigration of our sovereign integrity without any form of legal right of occupation
Confirming the development, an official of the Nigerian Embassy in that country said, “Until date, the DR Congo government has neither returned the property they took over illegally nor taken steps to assure the Mission that its properties in the country are safe from any future harassments and invasions. It is important to note that if immediate action is therefore not taken at this time, the Nigerian government stands to lose another of its property to another Congolese.
“We have been facing a lot of harassment and difficulties in performing our tasks here. It is exactly one year since the Embassy was burgled on 17th August 2021 by officials of DR Congo. It is also one year since some land grabbers who have official backing of the government of the host country invaded one of our diplomatic facilities in Gombe, Kinshasa, DR Congo.”
Another Nigerian official also hinted that there was also threat to the life of the then Head of Mission, Amb Charles Nkem Ibim and the Consular Officer, Mr Kareem, by the land grabbers for daring to stop them.
“Interestingly, the government of DR Congo has not deemed it fit to investigate any of these atrocities. Maybe they are waiting for another Jakarta episode in the DRC?
“This disrespect and lack of courtesy has also been extended to Nigerians and Nigerian businesses in the DRC, where many innocent Nigerians are facing similar embarrassments from some government agencies.
“Furthermore, the Nigerian Ambassador to the DR Congo, Ambassador (Engr) Omar Suleiman, has done all within his diplomatic powers to recover the seized property and have the culprits prosecuted, yet all efforts so far, have proven abortive. The Federal Government will need to come to our aid immediately,” the official added.
When contacted for his reaction by our correspondent yesterday, the acting spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Esther Sunsuwa, said that information concerning the harassment and seizure of property had not gotten to her desk officially.
She however promised to keep the media abreast with more information on the matter as the event unfolds.