Indonesia: Officials Did Not Mistreat Nigerian Diplomat, He Hit First

Ronna Nirmala
Indonesia: Officials Did Not Mistreat Nigerian Diplomat, He Hit First A screen grab from a video dated Aug. 9 and posted on Nigeria’s Channels Television YouTube account shows three Indonesian immigration officers grabbing a Nigerian diplomat inside a vehicle.
[Courtesy Channels Television via YouTube]

Indonesia has denied that immigration officers mistreated a Nigerian diplomat last week, alleging he had provoked the altercation by striking an official, but Jakarta’s ambassador in Abuja expressed regret about the incident to the Nigerian foreign ministry.

The Nigerian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday condemned the Aug. 7 incident saying it had recalled its ambassador to Jakarta, Usman Ogah, for consultations and was reviewing relations with Indonesia. A video of the incident went viral on social media, sparking an outcry in Nigeria.

Ibnu Chuldun, the head of the law and human rights department in Jakarta, said immigration officers were trying to restrain the diplomat after he struck one of them while being taken to an immigration office.

“It was the Nigerian who beat up our officer while on their way to the immigration office,” Ibnu said in a written statement released late Tuesday. “What is shown in the video is our officers trying to prevent him from committing further violence.”

A video posted on the YouTube channel of Nigeria’s Channels Television shows three immigration officials pushing the diplomat’s head against a car seat, as he screams, “I can’t breathe … my neck, my neck … I can’t breathe.”

Indonesian immigration officials manhandle Nigerian diplomat

Ibnu said officers on Saturday conducted a raid in a Jakarta apartment building against people believed to have overstayed their visas when they encountered Ibrahim in the lobby.  

When the officials asked for his identification, he resisted and became angry, Ibnu said.

“He was taken to the immigration office for being uncooperative and scolding the officers when they asked for his identification, even going so far as taunting them by asking to be arrested,” he said.

The Abuja-based International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) identified the diplomat involved in the incident as Abdul Rahman Ibrahim.

Ambassador ‘expressed his regret’

The Nigerian foreign ministry demanded “appropriate sanctions” against the Indonesian officers involved in the incident with the diplomat.

“[T]he Nigerian government condemns in the strongest terms what is in effect an egregious act of international delinquency by Indonesian state actors against an accredited representative of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, with absolutely no justification and against international law,” it said in a statement.

Earlier this week, Nigeria's Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the Indonesian Ambassador there to confirm the incident and “to strongly protest.”

Teuku Faizasyah, spokesman for the Indonesian foreign ministry, confirmed that Ambassador Usra Hendra Harahap had been summoned and “expressed his regret for the incident that caused an uncomfortable situation between the two parties,” Faizasyah told BenarNews.

“We hope that there will be complete information from immigration authorities about what actually happened on the ground,” he said, adding foreign ministry officials met Nigerian embassy staff in Jakarta on Wednesday.

“As two friendly countries, the governments of Indonesia and Nigeria are in intensive communication to resolve the issue surrounding the incident that involved a Nigerian diplomat and Indonesian immigration officers,” he said.

Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama told local media that the Indonesian ambassador had apologized.

“The ambassador explained what he understood happened and apologized unreservedly on behalf of the Government of Indonesia,” Onyeama said.

He also said the Indonesian officials’ action was “a clear breach of the Vienna Convention,” Nigerian newspaper The Guardian reported.

Ibnu, meanwhile, said the Nigerian diplomat and Indonesia immigration officials later agreed to resolve the matter amicably.

“Both parties acknowledged that there was a misunderstanding and agreed to make peace, witnessed by the head of the South Jakarta Immigration Office and the Nigerian ambassador," Ibnu said without specifying when this meeting took place.

‘Now he is the evidence’

Onyeama said a large community of Nigerians reside in Indonesia.

“We have been having complaints about some Nigerians and it is something we have been engaging robustly with the Indonesian government about,” he told Indonesian media.

ICIR said in an article on its website this was not the first time Nigerians had been harassed by immigration officials in Indonesia.

Ebubedike McDowell, a Nigerian residing in Indonesia, told ICIR that the Nigerian embassy often turned a blind eye to the way his compatriots were treated in the Southeast Asian country.

“When ordinary citizens here are complaining to them how immigration officials are treating us, they will ignore us and say we should bring proof,” McDowell was quoted as saying.

Another Nigerian, Daniel Uboh, told ICIR that he had met with the Abdul Rahman Ibrahim, the diplomat apparently involved in the incident.

 “I have met Mr. Ibrahim and told him what Indonesia immigration is doing to Nigerians,” Uboh told ICIR.


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