Attack on the Nigerian Embassy Berlin: Between Common sense and Morality
In the most dramatic of twists, the Embassy of Nigeria was subdued by an unprecedented but coordinated invasion of anti-deportation protesters on 15th October, 2012. The protest disrupted the normal activities of the consular section and by implication the Embassy as a whole thereby, prompting the invitation of the police who indeed responded with a very large number. Last update was 25 persons arrested, later released and charged to court.
The Embassy incident in the view of this newspaper is a clear conflict between common sense and morality. The issues being addressed hover around moral and political demands that in all fairness, seem to be a trap for the officials of the Embassy. Ideally, the Embassy is not obliged to attend to the demands therefore the action of the protesters does not justify an assault on the sovereignty of a country which the Embassy represents. No matter which side of the dived one is standing, assaulting the Embassy of a country by any group or organization especially if such groups are non citizen of that county cannot be tolerated.
This development resulted in the closure of streets within the immediate environment of the Nigerian Embassy in Germany. While it is not clear which persons or organizations were directly involved in the hatched plan to invade the Nigerian consulate on the faithful day, what needs to be addressed above all includes; the actual contention of the protesters, issues of security of the building and staff of the Embassy of Nigeria. These factors would be analyzed through a bed-rock of the trajectories of the policies of the Embassy of Nigeria in relation to the welfare of Nigerians in Germany.
For quite some time now, a group of Nigerians under the “Concerned Nigerians” umbrella have been in the fore front in calling for a stop to the policy of mobile consular hearing. This policy requires that the officials of the Nigerian Embassy on the invitation of German authorities go outside of the Embassy of Nigeria to identify supposed Nigerians for deportation to Nigeria. The group has been critical of this move and naturally appealed to other no-border frontiers and anti-deportation organizations that readily joined to own this protest. After a meeting or two with officials of the Embassy-one in which both parties feel justified not to back down-it was only a matter of time for dialogue to grow confrontational.
Furthermore, the group had argued that the motivation for the continued pursuit of the mobile consular hearing policy by the Embassy is the 500 Euros per head received on each person identified as Nigerian by the Embassy officials. This newspaper has neither the proof nor the information to authenticate this claim. However, it must be mentioned that the group is abreast with the actual date of such hearings which in a transparent system like Germany, is not rocket science.
A follow-up accusation is that the monetary motivation has led to the identification of non-Nigerians by the Embassy officials as Nigerians and that as a result, non-Nigerians had been deported to Nigeria because of this anomaly. Imagine being deported to a country you are not from and in some cases to be punished again by the Nigerian government depending on the reason for deportation. Again, this newspaper cannot confirm this claim beyond just words.
It is apposite to mention that deportation of illegal immigrants is purely the policy decision of the government of Federal Republic of Germany and that the Embassy of Nigeria would ordinarily be doing their job to identify who is a Nigerian in Germany. These facts however, become blurred with certain factors including; the pressure to override moral compulsion by subtly appealing to the Embassy officials to over-look a primary duty of theirs; the actual reason necessitating need for identification of would-be deportees, the nature of agitation by those fighting against deportation and so on. In a nut-shell, both the protesters and the Embassy officials would in my view, agree that there is nothing morally positive about protecting anyone who is disobeying the laws of Germany but, that in itself is also subjective as questions to why people travel out of their country in the first place, comes starring us in the face.
SECURITY OF THE EMBASSY:
Though the invasion was thought relatively to be peaceful, however a follow up report on major German TV stations like ZDF, reported that people were treated for minor injuries following the incident as a result of claims by protesters that police ruffled them up a bit. While one cannot confirm the story, this development calls in question the actual safety of the building and staffs of the Embassy of Nigeria. Could it be that the security department of the Embassy lacks equipment to meet with modern security challenges? With due respect and recognition for the good and people friendly performances of the Embassy security, there might be an urgent need to look into equipping the department with modern ways and means of being able to contain a likely invasion. At what point should visitors be processed for whatever business they have with the consulate? Is it at the main gate or at the consular entry? What signs should be looked out for curtailing mobilization of group activity inside the Embassy? What we have today is a scenario where even Boko Haram could have access to this sensitive section of the Embassy without a well-coordinated verifiable business or appointment at the Embassy .Etc. Answers to these pointers and barrage of questions should be sort and addressed.
This incident calls once again on the Embassy and the Ambassador to make a comprehensive analysis of the security situation at the Embassy and above all to re-examine their relationship not only with the Nigerian community in Germany but their policy on information/communication with other groups in Germany who may have issues to take with the Embassy and the Government they represent.. Dialogue is one aspect of conflict mediation that cannot be exhausted .As we expect a fact finding team of experts from Nigeria to come and look into the matter, let us hope that they will have access to people who can help with valuable information towards making sure that such incidents do not happen in the future.
God forbid, but if a group of armed men would force their way into the Embassy, the likely scenario is that the security personnel of the Embassy would be directly exposed to body harm ever before help would be called for. Note that according to international laws, the building housing Embassy of Nigeria can only be accessible to German security authorities on the invitation of the Embassy which means that the Embassy of Nigeria in Berlin is a Nigerian territory in Germany.