Armed groups Tuesday attacked the Nigerian embassy in Bissau, capital of Guinea-Bissau, a country of about 1.7 million people. The reason for the action is not yet known.
The event is happening just as the country is preparing for its general elections slated for next month.
Guinea-Bissau currently has an Interim President, Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo, who emerged in May 2012 to head a transitional government following the sacking of the country’s democratically-elected government by a military coup.
According to The Guardian sources, armed personnel and militias stormed the Nigerian embassy in a commando style, attacking everyone in sight and eventually causing the closure of the Nigerian sovereign outpost.
As at press time, members of staff of the embassy, including the Nigerian envoy to that country, Ambassador Ahmed Adams, were said to be taking refuge in a police station. No casualty has so far been reported.
All efforts by The Guardian to reach the Nigerian envoy to the country failed. Although his telephone rang, he did not pick.
Although the Federal Government was yet to officially react to the development yesterday, it was learnt that the supervisory Minister of Foreign Affairs 11, Ambassador Nurudeen Mohammed, rushed to the Presidential Villa yesterday ostensibly, among other things, to brief President Goodluck Jonathan. All efforts to reach the minister yesterday on the matter failed.
Events in Guinea-Bissau took a dangerous turn on April 12, 2012, when the army arrested Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Júnior who was about to be elected president. A military junta accused him of conspiring with Angola to curtail the military’s power and quickly installed transitional authorities, before officially stepping aside on May 22. International condemnation was swift, but differences developed between the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP).
The country was actually in the process of conducting elections when the military overthrew the constitutional order on April 12, 2012. This incident resulted in the suspension of the country from all international organisations. However, following the country’s inability to form a government well over a month after the coup, Nigeria, in close collaboration with ECOWAS, assisted in negotiations that resulted in the transitional government led by President Manuel Nhamadjo. Since then, Nigeria has provided various forms of assistance to Guinea- Bissau to the value of $50 million.
The Guardian learnt Tuesday that some high grade pick-up vans meant to be donated next week to Guinea-Bissau for the upcoming elections have now been put on hold following yesterday’s ugly development.
Author of this article: From Oghogho Obayuwana, Foreign Affairs