The attention of Embassy of Nigerian in Athens, Greece was drawn to the News and Reports entitled “Nigerian Citizens in Greece Allege Racist Attacks by Extremists” credited to Sahara Reporters posted on 8th December, 2012. We would have provided the version of Embassy if consulted ahead of the publication.
2. Hardly will any Nigerian resident in Greece allege indifference against the Mission towards issues concerning them because we have been devoting time and energy to address matters affecting them within the limits of law. The Mission had pursued the matter of Mr. Ikwe Chijioke with relevant host authorities. The Ambassador secured appointments and met (a) Minister of Public Order and Citizen Protection (b) Minister of Finance, (c) The General/Head of the Hellenic Police Department in Athens and (d) the Hellenic Foreign Ministry over this unfortunate attack. The Nigerian Ambassador also raised the issues at the African Ambassadors Group for a collection approach (as African Ambassadors always do) to tackle the matter since other Africans, Pakistanis etc have also been victims of the attacks by the dreaded Golden Dawn Group. As such, the xenophobic attacks in Greece has been brought to the attention of host government. Specifically, after the meeting with Minister of Public Order and Citizen Protection, the Embassy forwarded an email, providing details on Mr. Chijioke and the circumstance leading to his attack as requested by the Minister. In the Minister’s response, through his Chief of Staff, he informed that Omonia Police Department is investigating the case and that the motive of the perpetrators was to rob the victim. He indicated that the Hellenic Police will do whatever is necessary in the framework of Greek legislation to identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice.
Thereafter, the Head of Mission personally called Mr. Chijioke to empathise with him, explain the developments, and to assure him that the matter is being taken up with host authorities. During that conversation, the victim demanded that the Embassy should compel Greek Immigration authorities to issue his residence permit. We should add that Mr. Chijioke did not contact the Embassy when he was attacked. The Mission picked up after the information and contacted him through the Nigerian Union, asking him to submit a protest letter with supporting evidence, which led him to send the same pictures you published to the Embassy.
3. The Ambassador met with officials of the Nigerian Community to convey the decision of the meeting of African Ambassadors to advise their nationals to avoid late night outings in view of the xenophobic sentiments in Greece. Mr. Chijioke was attacked while he was returning from a party between 12 midnight and 2:00 am. Omonia where the attack took place is the most dangerous neighbourhood of Athens, where hoodlums and other miscreants lurk in corners waiting for their prey.
4. This response is to place the event in correct perspective, so that readers are not misled. President Goodluck Jonathan and Foreign Minister Olugbenga Ashiru empathetically directed Heads of Mission to make the welfare of Nigerians a priority, in view of their commitment towards the well being of Nigerians in the Diaspora. Full attention is being given to this primary concern of government.
Embassy of Nigeria
11th December, 2012