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Diplomatic row looms as DRC officials allegedly harass Nigerian envoys

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A diplomatic row may be brewing between Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) following the alleged harassment of Nigerian diplomats and other illegal activities.

The development is coming weeks after a Nigerian diplomat was brutalised by Indonesian immigration officials.

All attempts by the Nigerian Ambassador to the DR Congo, Omar Suleiman, to get the authorities of the host country to investigate the matter were rebuffed, a source at the Nigerian embassy said.

The source 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 till date, nothing has come out from the police concerning the young man that was arrested or the event.

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“On August 17, 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 station, the police freed him. The authorities claimed that he escaped and till date, nothing has been said about him or the incident.

“On August 24, 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. She is still, till this moment, one year after the invasion, without any form of legal right of occupation.

“Until date, the DR Congo government has neither returned the property they took over illegally nor taken steps to assure 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 loose another of its property to another Congolese.”

Also, another official, who does not want his name in print because of reprisals by the host country, said: “We have been facing a lot of harassments and difficulties in performing our tasks here. It is exactly one year since officials of DR Congo burgled the Embassy. 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.

“There was also threat to the life of our then Head of Mission, Ambassador 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.”

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