By Okey Ndiribe (Assist. Political Editor), Ise-Oluwa Igeand Dapo Akinrefon
He is a one-time President of the Nigerian Bar Association and private counsel to President Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Adua.
He spoke exclusively with Vanguard on the rejection of Prof Adeniran by the Government of the United States of America (USA) as ambassardor to Nigeria.
I know Prof Tunde Adeniran. He is an outstanding and very cerebral academic. He is also an established and well acclaimed administrator.
There is no doubt that he is able, capable and suited to be the Nigerian ambassador anywhere in the world particularly the United States of America.
Now that he has been rejected by the United States of America on the grounds that his son was allegedly on a gang that raped an American citizen, the question that arises is: Can America reject him as unfit to be the ambassardor of Nigeria in the US?
Let me answer that question by saying that there is no vicarious liability in criminal law.
In other words, whatever offence a father commits cannot be visited on the son and vice versa.
It is a universally accepted cannon of law. It is not restricted to Nigeria. It is also applicable in the United States of America. That is the law.
But when it comes to international diplomacy, the American government or the home country has a lot of latitudes to look into the pedigree, the background, the person, even the family of the person who is being donated to them as an ambassador. It is within their latitude.
Again, we also have to consider the norms in America. America is a country that places so much value on morals. America is a country where nobody can just wake up and assert himself or present himself as a legislator,Â a governor or as a president.
This is also the case in Great Britain.
In those countries, they have the innermost respect for anybody who wants to occupy any high office. Therefore, not just anybody can aspire to high offices.
Recall what happened during the last election in the United States to the running mate to the Republican candidate, Mrs Sarah simply because the daughter has some problem.
You will recall that the problem the daughter had was that her teenage daughter was pregnant.
To us in this clime, it is a non-issue but to them, there, it is a big issue.
The Americans rose up against Mrs Sarah over the issue and they said: look, you called yourself a Christian, a Pentecostal Christian, for that matter, and this kind of thing happened.
They asked her if she was a fit and proper person to occupy the exalted seat of the Vice President of the United States of America, given her inability to exercise firm control on her daughter?
Like I said earlier, to us, in Nigeria, it will be a non-issue.
So, what I have just done now was basically to juxtapose this example with what they had done.
Let me say at this juncture that I am not pronouncing the son of Prof Tunde Adeniran guilty of whatever offence they claimed he had committed.
In fact, I donâ€™t know that he committed any offence. Im just hearing from you now.
But I am saying that if that is their reason, I stand to say that they have a reason to give a reason for rejecting him.
And having given that reason, I still believe that Nigeria can still make a representation.
But that will be after the Government of Nigeria must have asked and heard from Prof Tunde Adeniran on whether the said allegation ever existed and whether his son was really involved and if yes, under what circumstance was he involved.
I believe that if he has a persuasive excuse, the Federal Government can still make a representation to change the position of the US Gopvernment.
Let me reiterate however that under international treaty and law, when you are sending somebody to another country as an ambassador, the municipal law and nuances including the norms and ethos as well as the ethics of that country will have to apply before acceptance. That is just the position.
There have been mixed reactions from Nigerians over last Thursdayâ€™s rejection of Prof. Tunde Adeniran as the nationâ€™s ambassadorial nominee to the United States of America. In his own reaction to the development, Akin Oyebode, a professor of international law described the development as unfortunate.
Said he: â€œ It is a rather unfortunate development because Prof. Tunde Adeniran is a nice fellow. He has the requisite credentials both academic and political. He is a Professor of political science and he has a Ph.D degree from the University of Columbia. There couldnâ€™t have been a better choice. But I think that one ofÂ his childrenâ€™s involvement in a case of rape in the United States may have worked against him.â€
He continued: â€œ I suspect that incidentÂ might have influenced the Americans to deny him what is called agreman in international law. The agreman principle which falls under the Geneva Convention stipulates thatÂ it is the prerogative of every hostÂ country to accept or refuse to accept an ambassadorial nominee for confirmation.
So what the Americans have done is to deny Prof. Adeniran agreman. Under international law the Americans donâ€™t need to tell us why they have denied an ambassadorial nominee agreman.â€
Prof Oyebode further described the development asÂ another slap on the face of the President Umar Yarâ€™Adua administration â€œ for not doing its home work on one occasion too many.â€
â€œÂ Apart from the latest incident, Nigeria has lost almost all its nominees for international offices around the world. Nigeriaâ€™s profile internationally hasÂ nose-divedâ€ he said.
He further stated that the only option left for the Federal Government is to go back to the drawing board and try to get somebody the Americans would not deny agreman.
In his own reaction Prof. Itse SagayÂ described the treatment metedÂ to Ambassador Adeniran by the United States government as â€œunreasonableâ€.
Said he:Â â€œI think what they did is unreasonable. If the child was charged for rape, why should they take it on the father? I think itâ€™s unreasonable. Nigeria should protest very strongly.â€
In addition, the legal luminary argued that the United States of America â€œhave no reason because the son and father are two legal entities. The father has no control over the son who has reached a certain age.
The AmericansÂ are showing us contempt and I think we should protest very strongly in order for them to show us more respect.â€