Two years after Ethiopian Authorities seized monies belonging to 25 Nigerian passengers for violating the country’s $3,000 travellers’ limit permit, Nigeria’s Ambassador to the country,
with concurrent accreditation to Djibouti, Ambassador Victor Adeleke, has said that Nigeria is taking all measures to ensure that Nigerians whose money were seized is resolved diplomatically.
In an interview published by sunnewsonline.com, the Nigerian envoy stated that there are ongoing discussions at the highest level of government to resolve the matter and other irritants robbing off on the warm bilateral relations between both countries.
Please read the full interview…
The Nigerian Ambassador to Ethiopia, with concurrent accreditation to Djibouti, Ambassador Victor Adeleke, has said that Nigeria is taking all measures to ensure that Nigerians whose money were seized by Ethiopian authorities as a result of the $3000 travellers’ limit permit, is resolved diplomatically.
Adeleke who is also the Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the African Union (AU) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), told Sunday Sun on the sidelines of the 76th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, United States, that the issue, which is political and diplomatic, is currently under discussions at the highest level of government to resolve the matter and other irritants robbing off on the warm bilateral relations between the two friendly countries.
Amongst other issues, Adeleke spoke on the cooperation between Nigeria and Ethiopia in diverse fields, concluding that both countries enjoyed warm relations.
How has it been since you resumed in Ethiopia as the Ambassador of Nigeria and Permanent Representative to AU and UNECA?
As you are aware, the mission is a multilateral one, accredited to AU and UNECA on the one hand and a bilateral mission accredited to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, with concurrent accreditation to the Republic of Djibouti. So, you can imagine, it has been busy, busy, busy since I resumed in mid-May, 2021 from Dublin, Ireland, where I was Deputy Head of Mission.
How do you describe Nigeria’s relationship with Ethiopia?
Indeed, Nigeria-Ethiopia bilateral relations have remained cordial over the past years and there has been much eagerness and zeal on the part of both countries to cooperate towards positive agreements, part of which led to the official visit by the then Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Dessalegne, to Abuja in July, 2014 where he was guest of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
In the same vein, at the invitation of Dr. Abiy Ahmed Ali, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, President Muhammadu Buhari undertook a state visit to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in February, 2020. In addition, the second Nigeria/Ethiopia Joint Commission was held in Abuja from 4th to 5th December, 2017.
It is recalled that the first session of the Joint Commission was hosted by Ethiopia in 2006. Similarly, the Ethiopia/Nigeria Senior Officials Meeting (SON), was held in June 2019 and the meeting deliberated on a whole range of issues, including political, defence and socio-economic cooperation, at the end of which both sides agreed to hold the 3rd Joint Ministerial Meeting in Ethiopia at a date to be determined.
What areas are both countries cooperating?
Nigeria and Ethiopia are both working on several areas of bilateral cooperation, particularly in the areas of Defence, Aviation, Science and Technology, Industry, Trade and Investment, Agriculture, Health, Youth and Sports development, Communication, Information and Media, as well as extending assistance to Ethiopia through the Technical Aid Corps programme.
On economic cooperation, for example, Nigeria considers Ethiopia a strategic economic partner in the Horn of Africa and both countries have continued to push to improve economic relations. It was in this context that the 2nd Session of the Nigeria-Ethiopia Joint Commission was held in Abuja in December 2017, where over 20 Agreements and Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) were reviewed, including those on mutual economic cooperation.
Aside from one or two commercial engagements, it is important to highlight that business cooperation between the two sides remains low. This, like many other agreements with Ethiopia has witnessed a slow pace of implementation particularly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nigeria and Ethiopia signed an agreement to wave visas for holders of diplomatic and official passports to ease travels by officials. Has it taken effect?
Yes, officials from both countries carrying diplomatic and official passports now enjoy the privilege of visa waiver, largely due to the agreement. So, it is operational.
Is the defence agreement signed with Ethiopia now in operation? And what does the agreement entail?
As you are aware, the impact of COVID-19 has been intense all around the world and like I stated earlier, this affected the implementation of many of our agreements with Ethiopia. We believe that the implementation of the Defence Agreement with Ethiopia would soon commence as we are working together with the Government of Ethiopia to ensure this comes to fruition.
The Defence MoU is expected to cover the following areas: Security and Intelligence Sharing; Military Training and Education; Military Technical Assistance; Exchange of Visits; Defence Technology Transfer; Export of Defence Products to either party; combating terrorism; peacekeeping missions at the United Nations and African Union levels.
What was the high point of Nigeria’s Chair of the AU Peace and Security Council (P&SC) in July?
You would recall that Nigeria, under my leadership, served as the Chair of the African Union Peace and Security Council, between 1st and 31st of July, 2021. It is imperative to inform that during the month-long engagement, the Council extensively discussed several crucial agenda items aimed at promoting continental peace and security in line with the principles of the AU Constitutive Act, UN Charter and the mandate of the Council as enshrined in the Protocol establishing the Peace and Security Council.
Some of the major wins for Nigeria in the PSC in the month of July include, the adoption of five communiques by PSC member states. In addition, the Council revived moribund agenda items such as the State of Maritime Security in Africa, especially to improve on Africa’s blue economy, Status Report/Roadmap to the full Operationalization of the African Standby Force and the Continental Logistics Base (CLB), Early Warning and Continental Security Outlook.
What effort is the AU making to assist Nigeria in the fight against terrorism, kidnapping, banditry and farmers-herders crisis in the country?
You will recall that the AU is deploying several policies and strategies in ensuring peace, safety and security, not only in the Northeast of Nigeria, but in the entire Lake Chad region, particularly using the instrumentality of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), the Lake Chad Stabilization Strategy, the African Standby Force, African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism and so on.
So, without mincing words, the AU is employing a lot of efforts to support Nigeria in its fights against terrorism, kidnapping, banditry, etc.
Humanitarian crisis in the Northeast, what is the AU doing about it?
There are ongoing efforts to finalise the full operationalization of the AU humanitarian by the Peace and Security Council. Be that as it may, the AU has constantly rendered support through several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to the Northeast and those humanitarian support are ongoing from the continental body.
As at February 2019, over 25 Nigerians’ money had been seized in Ethiopia due to the country’s $3,000 travellers’ limit permit.
What is the current situation?
This is currently a political and diplomatic issue and there are ongoing discussions at the highest level of government to resolve this matter and other irritants robbing off on the warm bilateral relations between our two friendly countries. We hope that soonest, these discussions would yield positive outcome.
Specifically, what is Nigeria doing about the development?
As I said earlier, Nigeria and Ethiopia are two brotherly countries, and we are taking all measures to ensure the matter is resolved diplomatically.
So, there are no efforts to reciprocate Ethiopia’s actions?
Not to my knowledge. Let me re-emphasize that Nigeria and Ethiopia have maintained cordial relations, and like I said, this issue is being discussed at the highest level, between our leaders and I have no scintilla of doubt that it would be resolved amicably.
Let me in closing call on Nigerians transiting or visiting Ethiopia to continue to adhere to the rules and regulations of the Ethiopian Government, particularly as it relates to the $3000 limit and when carrying monies over $3000, to declare the same or other valuables at the port of entry to relevant Ethiopian authorities. Nevertheless, the doors of the Embassy of Nigeria in Addis Ababa is always open to Nigerians in Ethiopia and Djibouti.
From Aidoghie Paulinus, who was in New York