By Henry Ojelu
The African Bar Association, AFBA, has called on the President of Cape Verde to release a Venezuelan Diplomat, Mr. Alex Saab who is allegedly being detained in Cape Verde since 2020.
Addressing a press conference Monday in Lagos, President of AFBA, Hannibal Uwaifo, stated that the association’s investigation revealed that Saab’s continued detention since last year is in breach of ECOWAS Protocols, the Charter of the African Union and a gross violent violation of international law.
According to him, upon receipt of a petition from Mr. Saab’s wife, the Governing Council of AFBA authorised its Human Rights and International Law Committees to investigate the matter.
He said the findings of the committee revealed very serious infractions of the ECOWAS Protocols, the Charter of the African Union, gross violent violations of international Law, abuse of Human Rights and disobedience of Court Orders by the Government of Cape Verde.
He warned that unless the Cape Verdean authorities are immediately called to order and pursue the path of the Rule of Law and respect for the Vienna Convention, the ECOWAS region and the AU will soon be thrown into a crisis of monumental proportion which may turn the sub-region and the continent into a laughing stock with dire consequences for the diplomatic community.
He said: “The illegal behaviour of the Cape Verde Government may not only bring ECOWAS and the AU into disrepute, but also open the way for big countries to violate the diplomatic status of our diplomats for flimsy excuses or political convenience.
“This unacceptable situation may also encourage other countries within ECOWAS and the AU to succumb to illegal pressures, violate ECOWAS Protocols and treaties and the Geneva Convention.
“This in turn will lead to chaos and a total break-down of our much-cherished cohesion as a sub-regional group.
“AFBA finds this situation embarrassing as defenders and custodians of the rule of law and due process in the ECOWAS Region and African Continent.
“We, therefore, advise the Government of Cape Verde to tow the line of legality, respect the rule of law and immediately release of Saab to continue with his legitimate mission.
“If Cape Verde does not follow this path of legality, the African Bar Association may be obliged to call for comprehensive sanctions against the Country by ECOWAS, the AU and UN.
“In defense of Africa’s much cherished non-aligned position the African Bar Association calls on the President of the African Union Commission to take immediate steps to ensure that the diplomatic privileges of African Diplomats are not put in jeopardy as Ambassador Saab am accredited Diplomat to the African Union is currently being detained in an African Country, Cape Verde.”
Giving details of the circumstance that led to the detention of Saab, Uwaifo said: “Ambassador Saab in his capacity as Special Envoy of Venezuela was travelling from Caracas to Tehran on 12 June 2020.
“His plane made a technical refueling stop on the Cape Verdean island of Sal during which he was detained.”
Describing Saab’s detention as unlawful, Uwaifo stressed that ‘No Red Notice’ had been issued at the time of the detention and that it was only issued on the next day, 13 June 2020.
“Neither on the day of his arrest nor the eight months later, has any evidence of the supporting arrest warrant issued by the United States been provided to Ambassador Saab or his defence team.
“The Red Notice was cancelled on June 25, 2020, yet Cape Verde continued to unlawfully detain Ambassador Saab until an extradition request from the United States arrived a week later.”