FIDA demands action on Nigerian envoy

May 27, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 27 – The Kenyan Chapter of the Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) has called on both the Kenyan and Nigerian governments to immediately withdraw all diplomatic immunity and status of Nigerian High Commissioner to Kenya Chijioke Wilcox Wigwe for alleged wife battery.

The lawyers said on Friday that the High Commissioner should also be declared persona non-grata (unwelcome person) in Kenya and should be immediately arrested and prosecuted.

The High Commissioner\’s wife Tess Iyi Wigwe had on Thursday accused her husband through a local newspaper of battering her two weeks ago.

"Considering the acts of violence as described by Mrs Wigwe in her statement and the descriptive photographs, it is quite clear that the commissioner has no respect for women and is therefore not fit to serve as a High Commissioner or in any official capacity," the statement by FIDA Chairperson Naomi Wagereka said.

The Nigerian High Commission has however termed the allegations against Dr Wigwe as "malevolent, far from the truth and unsubstantiated."

On Friday, Mrs Wagereka said that the Kenyan government had both international and constitutional obligations to provide protection against violence not only for Kenyans but also for vulnerable persons within its borders.

The women lawyers also want the Nigerian government to immediately provide protection and care to the High Commissioners wife, undertake extensive human rights and gender training for all its government officials, diplomatic officers and the general public in Nigeria.

They also demanded that the Nigerian government issue a statement declaring protection of human rights of women both in and out of Nigeria.

In its response, the Nigerian High Commission said: "While refraining from commenting on the status of the union….the High Commission would like to categorically state that Dr Wigwe does not have a history of physical violence as reported in the article and did not assault his wife as represented by the story," the statement read in part.

It further said that the mission stood by the High Commissioner "as a man of peace and integrity until it can be proved otherwise."

"Dr Wigwe has over 30 years of unblemished and meritorious service as an astute diplomat, a distinguished academic and a visionary leader with outstanding and impeccable career. All we ask the public at this stage is to allow us time to ascertain the truth of the matter, before his hard-earned reputation and lifetime achievements are destroyed by these accusations," it went on to say.

They assured the public that the High Commissioner and his office would accord the relevant authorities cooperation and assistance required to get to the bottom of the allegations.

"The allegations however, would not in any way, affect normal business at the High Commission including the planned Nollywood Road-shows to commemorate Nigeria\’s Democracy Day and celebrate the formal investiture of His Excellency President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan for a new term of four years," the High Commission said.

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