Indonesia to investigate forcible restraint of Nigerian diplomat

3 minute read
Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

JAKARTA, Aug 12 (Reuters) - Indonesia's foreign ministry expressed its regret on Thursday after a senior Nigerian diplomat was forcibly restrained by immigration officers in Jakarta, prompting the African country to recall its ambassador to Abuja for consultations.

A video of the incident, widely shared on social media and sparking outrage among users, shows the visibly distressed man being restrained inside a vehicle by several men.

"I can't breathe," he says at one point in the video, yelling out as his head is pinned to the seat.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

The Nigerian foreign ministry described the man as an "accredited Nigerian diplomatic agent" at the Nigerian embassy in Jakarta, without naming him.

Indonesian foreign ministry spokesperson Teuku Faizasyah said on Thursday the ministry regretted the Aug. 7 incident, and was continuing to communicate with the Nigerian government on the matter.

"That incident was an isolated incident and does not have anything to do with Indonesia's commitment to performing its duties as a host country as per Vienna conventions on diplomatic relations," he said.

He added that "the law and human rights ministry had launched an internal investigation as a follow up to that incident".

Faizasyah said a meeting took place between the ministry and the Nigerian ambassador on Wednesday where they discussed "good relations" between the countries.

The Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama strongly condemned the incident, calling it "an egregious act of international delinquency by Indonesian state actors".

"The Nigerian government demands appropriate sanctions against the relevant officials and has recalled its ambassador in Indonesia for consultations, including a review of bilateral relations," Esther Sunsuwa, a foreign ministry spokesperson, said in a statement on Wednesday.

Indonesia's immigration office defended the actions of its officers, saying the diplomat had been "uncooperative" when questioned in front of an apartment, during what an official said were routine checks on the validity of permits held by foreigners.

Ibnu Chuldun, the head of the Jakarta law and human rights agency that oversees immigration, told a news conference the diplomat had refused to show his identity cards and subsequently attempted to break the car window with an e-cigarette when apprehended, causing an injury to one officer.

Ibnu said that immigration officials only learned of the diplomat's occupation when he produced his identity card at the immigration office and that the Nigerian ambassador had gone to the office and accepted it was "a misunderstanding."

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
Reporting by Stanley Widianto in Jakarta; Libby George and Camillus Eboh in Abuja; Tife Owolabi in Yenagoa; Writing by Kate Lamb; Editing by Ed Davies and Christian Schmollinger

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.