NIGERIAN HIGH COMMISSION VERSUS NIDO-MALAYSIA: THREAT OF MASS ARREST OF MEMBERS
The last may not have been heard about the simmering crisis between the Nigeria High Commission Malaysia under the headship of Ambassador Peter Anegbeh and the Executives of the Non-governmental Organization of Nigerians in Diaspora, NIDO Malaysia (NIDOMY), in the South-East Asian country.
The crisis which came to a head on 20 November 2010, after the retired Nigeria High Commissioner to Malaysia, Peter Anegbeh, attempted to overthrow the democratically elected outgoing Executives of NIDOMY by inaugurating a Care Taker Committee (CTC) which comprises handpicked individuals of his choice, is gradually assuming an ugly dimension.
Sensing the unpopularity and illegality of his decision as reflected in the apparent incapacity of his handpicked CTC to assume the reins of authority of the organization, as findings reveal, Anegbeh has concluded plans to explore the option of mass arrest of members of the legitimate executive under the Malaysian Internal Security Act (ISA).
Reports reaching us indicate that Anegbeh has submitted to the Malaysian government for arrest under the ISA, a list of names, which features prominently the name of the outgoing Secretary-General of the organization, Mr. Adebyi Jelili Abudugana, and others he deemed too powerful to be coerced into accepting his decision to unconstitutionally hijack the leadership of the organization and install his handpicked cronies.
The forces opposing Anegbeh are reported to have refused to allow Anegbeh the breathing space in executing his agenda because such action of the retired diplomat is according to the organization, unconstitutional and not within his purview as a diplomat since he is not a member of the organization which is non-governmental.
Overwhelmed by the evidences tendered to counter his claims and in establishing the illegality of his action, Anegbeh as findings reveal have decided to opt for a new tactics.
Therefore, based on the failure of Anegbeh’s plan A, as reliably gathered, he has resorted to use the joker of religious and ethnic sentiments to discredit the outgoing the Executive who, according to findings, were elected by both Christian and Muslim electorates.
Anegbeh is qouted to have expressed his dissatisfaction that the outgoing leadership has more Muslims than Christians in its leadership make up and that the people from his part of the country are not well-represented in the Executive body of the organization.
Given this new joker, the retired and outgoing HC is poised to establish a NIDO-MY which will be fully dominated by his own ethnic and religious group out of his sheer dislike for the present composition which to him comprises of Muslims of the Northern enclave.
Reacting to this unfavorable development that is fast dividing the once united Nigerian community in Malaysia, a number of Nigerian legal residents in Malaysia express their displeasures over the actions of the outgoing High Commissioner.
According to Oluwatosin Abiola, a Nigerian researcher that is resident in Malaysia, “tyrants worldwide are known for their use of brutish force and coercive tactics in-order to accomplish their self-serving purposes. The ex-HC hasn't acted differently in this regard. By threatening to arrest and detain law-abiding residents of this community under the ISA act, he is only confirming what we have long suspected him of. Like his ilk back home in Nigeria, they would do anything, including blackmail to continuously cling on to power. As a widely travelled man, the ex-HC should know that the primary function of his exalted office is to protect the lives, properties and interests of all Nigerians who are here for legitimate reasons and not to dabble into the affairs of an NGO like NIDO-MY.”
Oluwatosin Abiola also expressed his dissatisfaction on Mr. Anegbeh’s resort to use of religious and ethnic sentiments by stating that, “Another infuriating issue in this debacle is the resort to the use of religious/ethnic sentiments on the part of the ex-HC in-order to gain public sympathy cum support. It is common knowledge that when Nigerians meet outside the shores of the country, they often view issues through a common lens irrespective of religious/ethnic affiliations-of course our leaders do not like this. Fully aware that our unity is a threat to the corrupt empire they have built and sustained with our sweat and even blood, they will do anything to ensure we remain disunited. Ethno-religious crises have been a portent tool with which they've achieved their selfish desires. Through it, they have succeeded in keeping us divided among ourselves. Whenever they want to siphon public funds, they do not bring up Ethno-religious issues but the moment they realize we are closing our ranks to fight a common cause like this illegality presently being perpetrated, they introduce them to scuttle such moves. The Jos crises is still very fresh in our memories; ditto other politically motivated crises which our leaders would want us to believe are caused by religious/ethnic differences, albeit erroneously. This gimmick will definitely not work in an organization like NIDO-MY where we have intelligent and educated Nigerians from various walks of life.”
Why reacting to the matter at hand, Mr. Abudugana, the organization’s outgoing Secretary General remarked, “it has been a crisis spurred by the undemocratic and unconstitutional resolve of one individual, Mr. Anegbeh, to fulfill his pledge of handpicking and foisting on our noble Organization, NIDOMY, a group of individuals most of whom are either questionable or not registered members of our Organization.
Abudugana further submitted that, “to achieve his aims, Mr. Anegbeh and his cohorts embarked on a systematic character denigration campaign and tried many ploys to divide our ranks. He has accused our leadership of being ethnicized and religiously biased, a move which is the strongest and wicked blackmail tactics that can be used against anybody who hails from a country like Nigeria where ethno-religious matters are treated with dire sensitivity.”
“He has singled me out for blackmail, and character assassination, an accusation, which, I boldly wish and hope that he ought to have challenged in any competent court of law rather than resorting to Machiavellian and guerilla tactics that is typical of authoritarian regimes that have destroyed African destiny in particular and dashed the hope of many in the world” Abudugana said.Defying dissenting voices and outright condemnation from these Nigerians, Anegbeh is working closely with his CTC and another Electoral Committee which he formed and appointed a staff in the High Commission, Mr. A. Idowu as its Chairman, for a parallel election that is scheduled to hold on January 8, 2011. This is billed to come after he, Mr. Anegbeh has discredited, disregarded and discarded the transition process set up by the outgoing NIDOMY leadership which has concluded the organization’s elections into Executive posts in November.
In a phone chat, the Secretary of the Electoral Committee that conducted the November election, Hakeem Onapajo, countered the position of the outgoing HC that the election was not credible enough. He posited that “all duly established procedures recognized by the constitution of the organization was strictly adhered to in the electoral process that produced the yet to be sworn-in executive. I see it as mischievous and indeed ludicrous that any individual will challenge a process widely acknowledged to be free and fair.”
A conscious effort made to get the position of the High Commission proved abortive as officials of the Commission rebuffed all overtures to seek the audience of the HC on the matter. Efforts were also made in this direction to seek a lasting clarification from the Nigerian government on the true status of NIDO as an organization and the extent to which its High Commissions have influence over the organization’s activities.
An official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja who pleaded anonymity faulted the position that NIDO is a governmental agency. According to him, “no, I don’t think anybody can say that NIDO is a governmental agency. In what capacity can the government classify it as its own agency? It is not a department under foreign missions. The government only recognizes it based on the fact that it unites Nigerians under the same umbrella of one Nigeria as against other ethnic or culturally based Nigerian organizations abroad, hence, a reason why the missions collaborate with it in any country of its existence.”
Corroborating this position, Ambassador Prince Ariyo of the nation’s High Commission in Namibia, in a recent event in 2009 marked to formally inaugurate the chapter of NIDO in the African country, traced the origin of the organization. He maintained that it was founded as an NGO that would “discuss the possibility of establishing a very strong Organization that comprises Nigerian academicians and professionals in various fields of endeavor residing in Europe.”
A quick check on different websites of NIDO in different countries such as the United States of America, United Kingdom, Russia, the Netherlands and many others also validates this position. For instance, Dr. Mrs. N.N. Akanbi, Ambassador Extraordinary of Nigeria in the Netherlands, in an address made available on the organization’s website severally referred to NIDO as “your organization” to several Nigerian professionals in attendance while having a meeting with them between 6 and 9 February 2009.
Opposing this view is Chief James Emarievbe, the anointed candidate of Mr. Anegbeh who the latter has also appointed as the head of the outgoing High Commissioner’s CTC. In a document made available to the members of the organization, he contended that Anegbeh as his bosom friend confided in him that the organization was a governmental organization and hence, his reason for meddling into its affairs.
He boasted to have had access to some confidential and classified documents that cannot be made available to everybody which indicate that Anegbeh has acted rightly to disengage the Executive and form the CTC.
Chief James remarked, “to be fair to all, I booked an interview with the High Commissioner, Chief Peter Anegbeh today and we held a meeting in which I requested him to justify his involvement in an NGO which should be on her own for now. The HC again reaffirmed his stand that NIDO is not an NGO. In support of his stand he allowed me to read two letters from the Ministry of External Affairs, one issued on 25/9/2008 signed by Keshi and another memo in July, 2009 directing all missions on how to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Nigeria Independence. Because the two documents were marked CONFIDENTIAL from Head Office, I could not make photocopies for circulation. The memo of 25/9/2008 clearly gave directive to all missions to supervise the activities of NIDO in their respective countries so that the objective of the Government can be achieved. The memo states that a special unit is set up in the Ministry of External Affairs (we can verify this) to oversee the activities of NIDO and further warned the Missions to expect resistance from Members of NIDO which they should be ready to deal with. The Memo of July, 2009 reconfirmed the position of NIDO as a Government organisation hence officers/activities of NIDO are supported by Government.”
While reacting to Chief James’s claim, Mr Abudugana said, “I am surprised that Chief James is still holding on to the false claim that NIDO is owned by the Nigerian government. Until now, Chief James has never provided any hard evidence to justify his spurious claim. He has only cited some secret and classified documents which he claimed was shown to him by Mr. Anegbeh. That Chief James was shown a classified document is in itself an abuse of office by the person who allowed him access to such secret and classified memos. No honest person would accept such claim in a discourse where overwhelming evidence has been produced to establish the truth and NIDOMY’s indisputable status as an NGO. The same bogus claimed was re-echoed by Mr. Anegbeh and his cohorts. This is a bald-faced affront on truth and the indisputable status of NIDO as an NGO.”
The government of Nigeria might at this point need to clear the air on the protracted crisis engulfing Nigerians in Malaysia. Continued silence over the matter might validate the assumed culpability of the government on the issue and further worsen the situation for Nigerians in Far East Asia.
John Olawepo can be reached through [email protected]