If you ever, maybe out of a sense of patriotism or else a head-in-the-sand stance, thought that all was well with Nigeria; I challenge you to watch the video of a diplomat of the Nigerian High Commission in Indonesia, being manhandled by Indonesian policemen over seemingly hazy circumstances.
It wasn’t the diplomat’s wailings which turned to cries of an inability to breathe; probably in the hopes that this would channel the globally famous George Floyd scenario and give the policemen pause for thought.
It wasn’t the fact that this man was being restrained by a bunch of men in what appeared to be the most inhumane way possible; hands to his throat, a foot in his groin and another in his throat; his hands grabbed and twisted in an attempt to get him to stop squirming. Neither was it the fact that this was going on in a moving vehicle heading to God knows only where; which would have definitely added to the trauma of the impossible situation for this gentleman.
Or the fact that his abductors felt it was proper to take a video recording of the entire cringe-worthy episode; then upload it to the internet as a testament to how they handle issues in the public glare; leaving to the viewers’ imaginations, the horrible imagery of what they might get up to when the cameras stopped rolling.
For me, it was the simple fact that this man was a diplomat, representing his country Nigeria; at the time and therefore immune to any arrest or humiliation, especially not the sort the whole world witnessed.
Even if it were a case of mistaken identity, if he wasn’t caught in the act of rape or cannibalism; then the least he deserved was to have been treated with a whole lot of decorum and respect; not because he was a diplomat, but because he is a human being. One wonders if this were the usual MO for conducting arrests in Indonesia.
How come the internet is not replete with videos of people being arrested that way?
If an Indonesian was found in the act of committing whatever “offense” it was Mr. Ibrahim was accused; or suspected of committing which led to that manhandling, would they have been handled the same way? Or is the problem an elephant in the room that most commentators appear reluctant to want to poke a finger at?
Is there a racist undertone to the arrest, harassment and manhandling of someone whom reports state was just “standing outside his apartment” when the police landed? Is this the usual way people, irrespective of their color, race or creed are manhandled for perhaps loitering? How and why did the police get there? Who called them? Why was that call made?
What could have been so threatening and suspicious about a man that to; put it mildly, looks like everybody’s favorite uncle, that he had to almost be trussed like a goat heading for slaughter; in order to be arrested?
Is this how Indonesia as a country treats all visitors to their country? Non-threatening visitors because going through all the stories and reports about this unfortunate incident; none mentioned the presence of a threat or weapon on the manhandled diplomat. He was not waving a gun or knife. Also, he was definitely not presenting any imminent threat or danger to either his own life; that of the police officers or of any other person in the area or the vicinity.
Also except this particular individual did not have any means of identification on him; the presentation of his diplomatic passport was sufficient to insulate him from the sort of treatment he received; which having happened, immediately became a direct slap in the face of the sovereignty of Nigeria as a country.
Diplomats represent their countries in their places of assignment. Any act towards them is considered as being extended to their country.
So, why were all the courtesies and protocols overlooked in the handling of an individual to whom they should naturally be extended and who from all reports and indications was not posing any threat to anyone?
And now can we come to the gravest question of them all…
If a diplomat, carrying a diplomatic passport, subject to the courtesy of diplomatic immunity; could have been so debased and rough handled by a group of individuals who I must confess looked more like a street gang; than a properly constituted police department; how then are the rest of our citizens who do not carry blue passports but must travel or transit Indonesia being treated?
If the blue passport cannot be respected, what is the fate of citizen x who has to carry the ordinary Nigerian “kpali”?
Is this a case of Nigeria being the doormat for every indignity by just about any country under the sun?
These are the issues.
Is Madam Abike Dabiri still overseeing the affairs of Nigerians in Diaspora?