While Nigerians throughout the world may have been rejoicing over the news that their country now has the biggest economy in Africa, the situation in Liberia was totally different this week.
Local Nigerians were staging a demonstration calling on President Goodluck Jonathan to have Ambassador Chigozie F. Obi-Nnadozie recalled.
The Nigerians, who allegedly came from every part of Liberia for the protest instigated by the leadership of the Nigerian Community and Descendants Union of Liberia (NCDUL), on Wednesday, April 8, converged on the Nigerian Embassy in a protest intended to prevail upon the government of Nigeria to have Ambassador Obi Nnadozie recalled for what they termed as a “lack of respect and outright disdain for the welfare of NCDUL members.”
The protesters said Ambassador Nnadozie’s continued stay in Liberia is not only unfavorable to the welfare, safety and security of all people of Nigeria and their descendants in Liberia, but harmful to the supreme interest of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a sovereign state.
The Liberian National Police, upon getting hints of the situation, barricaded the Nigerian Embassy to ensure the Ambassador’s protection. The LNP arrested the organizers of the protest upon noticing the situation was beginning to get out of hand. They pushed the crowd away from the Embassy entrance until they had moved across the street.
The Secretary General of the Nigerian association, Rev. Vincent Abuka, catalogued several grievances that the organization has against Ambassador Nnadozie.
Rev. Abuka said the Ambassador has shown a clear lack of respect, if not outright disdain, for their organization, which was founded in 1948-a time when she was not yet born.
He said she seeks to destroy the organization by forming a rival organization made predominantly of a handful person from her state of origin. According to him, this has caused her to sideline the majority of Nigerians and their descendants.
The NCDUL stalwart said, “The Ambassador has on several occasions expelled from the premises of the Embassy, the NCDUL’s president and other prominent elders she invited to the Embassy for meetings.”
“She also reported NCDUL’s President to the Justice Ministry accusing him of obstructing her functions as Ambassador. She instigated the detention of NCDUL president Elder Felix U. Ebeku. This is totally against the fraternity that we share as Nigerians.”
He accused the Ambassador of denying and obstructing the return of corpses of deceased Nigerians back home for burial as custom demands, saying, “Her actions often compound the sorrows of relatives. Before her arrival this behavior was unheard of in Liberia.”
He alleged that Ambassador Nnadozie is extorting money from her compatriots as registration fees at the Embassy; something they used to do free of charge.
The NCDUL Secretary said: “Without any evidence, our Ambassador collectively branded Nigerians and their descendants in Liberia as terrorists and Boko-Haram insurgents, thereby threatening our security in the country. This is unacceptable; her newest statement against us supports recent claims by a top Liberian security operative that Nigerian businessmen in the country are Boko-Haram operatives.”
When contacted for comments or reactions to the claims of the NCDUL leaders, Ambassador Nnadozie after answering unceremoniously, cut-off her phone. When this reporter called back a male voice answered the phone and started insulting him.
“Why you people are not interested in promoting a good image of Nigeria and only choose to publish negative things about this country.” The man, who was speaking for the Ambassador, said that she had, at the time of the protest, gone to the launch of a new Nigerian business; something he said would promote better relations between the two countries rather than giving heed to something unnecessary.
The NCDUL leadership told journalists that its members have begun to observe a week of fasting and prayer to seek divine intervention for the recall of the Ambassador, who they said has been “very insensitive” to the plights of the larger Nigerian community in Liberia.
It is alleged that the protesters are all naturalized Liberians that should, thus, have nothing to do with Nigeria. It is rumored the protesters have yet to denounce their Nigerian nationality officially or legally. Rev. Vincent Abuka denied the claims saying they had no substance.
“When issues like this come up, you become aware all kinds of people are willing to use propaganda. I can tell you that 99 percent of us here at the Embassy today are not naturalized and will continue to be Nigerians,” Rev. Abuka concluded.