General News of Friday, 3 January 2020
Nigeria has refuted reports that it is in a diplomatic row with the Government of Ghana over a property leased for its High Commission in Ghana.
The property, located at No.10 Barnes Road, Accra, has been reallocated to Amaco Microfinance since 26 August 2019 by Ghana’s Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources with the consent of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration.
According to a statement issued by the Nigeria High Commissioner to Ghana, Olufemi Michael Abikoye, dated 31 December 2019, a terse letter dated 27 December 2019 was received from the solicitors acting on behalf of Amaco Microfinance Company Limited, Accra, “giving instructions for the High Commission to vacate its diplomatic property at No.10 Barnes Road, Accra.
“The letter further stressed that failure to comply within the stipulated time will lead to depositing the mission’s belongings at the nearest Accra police station.”
Giving the latest update on the property, Mr Abikoye said: “As of 31 December 2019, the property has been broken into by the company and is being ransacked with the likelihood of being effectively occupied.”
The High Commissioner said the letter followed the continuous violation of the diplomatic property and a formal notification that it had been reallocated to the microfinance.
In its statement, the Nigerian High Commission said Ghana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs claims that the government of Nigeria failed to renew the rent for the property following its expiration, thus, “The property reverted to the state in compliance with Article 258 of Ghana’s 1992 Constitution.”
However, Mr Abikoye expressed surprise that the reallocation was done “without recourse to the High Commission” despite having requested, on several occasions, for “a mutual resolution of the matter, affirming that the Nigerian government is examining the situation and that an appropriate directive was being awaited.”
He, therefore, enjoined the Federal government to convey an appropriate response to the Ghanaian leadership regarding the reallocation of the property and request a vacation of the diplomatic property.
Contrary to the claims by Mr Abikoye, the Nigerian Foreign Affairs Ministry said it is “untrue” that its property on No. 10 Barnes Road, Accra, Ghana has been ‘violated’ by the host authorities and that there is a diplomatic row between Nigeria and Ghana.
A statement signed by the spokesperson of the Nigerian Foreign Affairs Ministry, Ferdinand Nwonye, explained that the said property under reference was in use by the Federal Ministry of Finance, since 1957, on leasehold and was later bequeathed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The lease is said to have expired recently and the High Commission has been exploring the possibility of renewing the lease agreement with the host authorities.
Nigeria said the building is not physically occupied but the Mission has some of its properties within the premises.
“It should further be reiterated that the property is not housing either the Residence of the High Commissioner or the Chancery or staff quarters. However, talks are still on-going between the Mission and appropriate host authorities. There is, therefore, no imminent diplomatic row with Ghana as being speculated by a section of the media. We wish to assure all and sundry that the Ministry is on top of the situation,” the statement said.