Nigeria’s minister of foreign affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, has maintained that the threats of sanctions recently issued by the British parliament over the recent shooting, and killing of #EndSARS protesters, is not a true position of the government of the United Kingdom.
The foreign minister who stated this position while speaking with State House reporters after a scheduled meeting with governors and leaders from South-east region of the country at the presidential villa, Abuja explained that the action of the UK parliament should not be equated with that of the British government.
He said: “Parliamentarians don’t speak for the UK government which acts for the United Kingdom (and) has also heard the side of the (Nigerian) government regarding everything that has happened.
“So, we have been in touch with them and engaging with them. And of course as in any democracy, the members of parliament are able to air their views.”
“What is important is that balanced picture is made available to them before they take any decision,” Onyeama added.
He explained further: “They are also to engage more systematically with the youths to address the agitations as a result of EndSARS and came up with a number of proposals in that context to see better funding of the police and other security agencies as a way to achieving the right goal in addressing the security offices.
“They were also very keen to ensure and guarantee the safety of all Nigerians living within the zone and also thanked the other parts of the country for assuring the safety of those from the South-east living in other parts of the country. They said they will set up a mechanism for constant dialogue with the youths and all the other stakeholders in the subregion.”
It would be recalled that media reports including The New Diplomat had reported requests from the UK parliament for the UK government to start extensive investigations into human rights abuses by Nigerian government officials and security agencies, especially by officials of the Nigeria Police Force.
The UK government had also held deliberations and debate on whether to recommend imposition of sanctions on Nigerian government officials whose culpability in these abuses could be established.
Typically, these sanctions varies in style and shape. They include travel ban, visa restrictions and outright seizure of assets belonging to Nigerian officials in the UK by the British government.
It would also be recalled that a total of about 220,330 persons endorsed the e-petition with over 2,000 of the petitioners being residents or citizens of the UK.
The petition had among other things blamed Nigerian government officials and security agencies for the escalating cases of human rights abuses and extrajudicial killings in Nigeria.
But the foreign minister , Mr Onyeama said the Nigerian government has reached out to the UK government to explain the true state of things. He said: “We have reached out.”
However, the scheduled meeting which took place at the Villa with the governors from the South-East zone reportedly indicated the zone’s resolve to establish a trust fund to take care of victims of violence in the aftermath of #EndSARS protest.
The foreign minister who disclosed this said, “It is work in progress and it is all about building trust.
“The governors did address the issue of ethnicity in this whole situation and it was in that context that they committed to assuring the security of groups that are not from the zone of their protection and also reaching out beyond their zone to their counterparts to also ensure the security of South Easterners living in other parts of the country.”