Drama as Lebanese ambassador walks out on reps

Houssam Diab, Lebanese ambassador to Nigeria, on Thursday, walked out on house of representatives committee members on diaspora affairs. 

The ambassador arrived at the meeting venue around 11 am, but met journalists and some other government officials, including Zubairu Dada, minister of state for foreign affairs.

The meeting was meant to discuss issues around the maltreatment of Nigerians in Lebanon, especially one Temitope Arowolo, who is in detention in the country for alleged attempted murder of her master and allegations of theft.

It was gathered that the ambassador had expected the meeting to be held closed door, and as the meeting was about to start, he got up and walked out.

Reacting, Tolulope Akande-Sadipe, chairman of the committee, said she was shocked that the “ambassador will just get up and walk out on us.”

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Some other members of the committee, however, went after the ambassador, and later, held a closed door session.

Akande-Sadipe said the meeting was cordial, and the walk-out was a misunderstanding.

“It was an informal meeting because the ambassador was nice enough to join us at the meeting. There is no law that says he has to be here today, but because he has an interest in the joint relationship between Nigeria and Lebanon,” she said.

“It was a misunderstanding, it meant to be an informal meeting and the ambassador was not aware that even when we have our informal meeting is documented. Because of the law of diplomacy, he wasn’t expecting to have media there and it was immediately resolved that it was going to be an executive session. The minister apologised on behalf of foreign affairs and he apologised on behalf of the country and the Embassy of Lebanon.

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“We have a lot of Nigerians in Lebanon, we have a lot of Lebanese in Nigeria. We have a relationship with Lebanon from the 50s so you can imagine how we have been.

“This meeting today has further reiterated the Lebanese community and the Nigerian community we always stand together to ensure that justice and respect for human lives is a priority and we will work together to bring modern-day slavery to an end.”

She said the Lebanese government had also agreed to release Arowolo and other Nigerians held in the country.

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“I am happy to inform Nigerians that Temitope will be home before the end of the week, and so many other Nigerians who want to come home from Lebanon the opportunity will be provided for them to come home,” she said.

She said they are also taking the opportunity to look at the case of a Lebanese who is held in Ilorin, Kwara state capital on charges of human trafficking.”

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