July 23, 2009

‘Nigerians Are Thieves’

TWELVE days after Vanguard reported that the Ambassador of Greece in Nigeria, Mr. Haris Dafaranos and his wife, Haralambo,  labelled Nigerians thieves, there has been no reaction whatsoever from the Nigerian authorities.

Mr. Dafaranos and his wife were at the reception area of Transcorp Hilton in Abuja on July 11 when the wife found a wristwatch, which a client of the hotel forgot while checking out.

She refused to hand over the wristwatch to the security personnel on duty at the reception who wanted to keep it for the owner. She said Nigerians were habitual thieves, she did not trust that the wristwatch would get to the owner. She refused to listen to the appeals of even the security manager on duty to turn in the wristwatch.

The arrival of Mr. Notore Kolagbodi, to claim his wristwatch did not change Mrs. Dafaranos’ mind. She wanted proof of ownership from Mr. Kolagbodi.

Hot exchanges between Nigerians and the woman did not bring her to her senses. She continued calling Nigerians thieves. Her husband supported her. “Nigerians are thieves. Can anyone of them deny that fact?  What is the assurance that you guys did not connive to bring this fellow as the rightful owner of the wrist watch?,” Mr. Dafaranos asked?

The woman had to be persuaded to hand over the wristwatch after she had exhausted herself.

We think that the silence of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on this matter is worse than the undiplomatic behaviour of the Greek couple. If the Dafaranos think so contemptuously of Nigerians, they have no business being in this community a day longer. What informed their audacity? Is it the knowledge that they can abuse Nigerians and keep their positing?

This was not a one off unguarded statement. The ambassador and his wife were insistent on their abusive views about Nigerians. They should be made to realise that this type of conduct is below the conduct of a diplomat and is unacceptable, and one that surely deserves a recall of the couple.

It is appropriate for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to conduct a serious investigation into the behaviour of the Greek ambassador who before now was harping on the importance of the economic ties between Nigeria and his country.

People witnessed the incident, which was in an open area, the ever-busy Hilton reception lobby. They included the hotel security manager on duty during the incident. If the investigation indicts him, he should be deported immediately.

Greece also owes Nigerians an apology for sending them an ambassador who would abuse them, as if Greece is populated by only saints.

Nigerians who visit embassies in Nigeria for businesses are subjected to serial abuses. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs maintains a stoic silence on the conduct of these embassies. Indifference of government to the poor treatment Nigerians get at embassies could have emboldened Mr. Dafaranos and his wife.

Whatever happened, the incident deserves full investigation and punishment for  any guilty parties.

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