By SundiataPOST, Abuja
The Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prof. Viola Onwuliri, has appealed for calm and restraint after youths of Ohaji Egbema community in Imo State threatened to avenge the killing of their son in Goa, India.
Onwuliri made the appeal on Monday in Abuja when she received a delegation from the family of the deceased, Mr Simon Obodo, and the leadership of the National Congress of Ohaji Youths (NACOY) in Imo State.
She said the Federal Government would dispatch a high-level delegation to India this week to sign three agreements with the Indian government on the safety of all Nigerians in that country.
Onwuliri listed the agreements as the Mutual Legal Assistant, Extradition Treaty and Transfer of Prisoners.
The minister, who described the death of the Nigerian as reprehensible, however, said that Obodo’s unfortunate demise would fast-track the signing of the agreements with India.
She told the delegation that Nigeria had formally received an “unreserved apology’’ from the Indian government on the issue and had gone ahead to release some Nigerians who protested in Goa against their colleague’s death.
She praised the Ohaji/Egbema youths for not taking the laws into their hands by attacking over 50 Indians working for oil companies operating in the community.
Onwuliri said that Nigeria would no longer tolerate the maltreatment of its citizens anywhere in the world, adding “we share your sorrow and pain that this happened to a citizen of this great country’’.
“Simon was a law abiding citizen; he was just coming back from lunch when he met his untimely death and I know the pain of losing a dear one suddenly,’’ she said.
Onwuliri recalled that during a meeting with the Indian Foreign Minister at the just concluded Commonwealth Heads of State and Government Meeting in Sri Lanka, she registered Nigeria’s protest over the incident.
“He promised that he will visit Goa and get back to me and I believe that he will do that,’’ she said.
The minister warned that Nigeria would get “to the root of the matter’’, adding that the reactions that had trailed the killing of the Nigerian should send a strong signal to Indians.
“We will continue to tell the government of India to be more responsible and responsive as far as our citizens in their country are concerned.
“Our citizens in India are entitled to proper life just as Indians in Nigeria have it all, ” she said.
Mr Ejike Esinkonye, who represented the family of the deceased, said the community was still in pains over the death of their brother.
“Our brother was a young gentleman, who went to India for the greener pastures, so we see no reason why he should be murdered.
“If there is any community which indigenes should not be killed outside Nigeria, I think Ohaji/Egbema should be number one.
“We have well over 50 Indians living in our community, which is an oil producing area. We have Addax, Chevron and other oil companies, which have Indians working with them.
“Since 1957 when oil was discovered in my community, Indians have been in our land and we have never harmed any of them,’’ he said.
Akumefula said the deceased was an “Oji Offor’’, the second in succession to the shrine and deity of the community, the revered “Nwaku.’’
“Now that he has been murdered in cold blood what happens to his responsibilities?
“The young man has a mother, who is over 70 years, who takes care of her,’’ he asked.
The National President of NACOY, Moses Akumefula, expressed concern that some Nigerians in Goa, who protested the killing of their brother, were clamped into detention for more than three weeks.
He demanded that the corpse of their brother be flown to Nigeria with immediate effect and accorded a befitting burial by the first week of December.
The youth leader also asked the Indian government to tell the community “who will take care of the aged parents of Simon and his dependants.’’