Nigerian diplomat detained in Venezuela over fraud allegations

by Isi Esene

Dr. Olarotimi Ajayi, a senior Nigerian diplomat in Venezuela has been detained for over two weeks  by the immigration officials of the South American country over allegations of fraud. He was held while on his way back to Venezuela from the United States of America where he had gone to sit for a promotional exam.

Initial reports as to the reason for Dr. Ajayi’s detention was that his name appeared on a red alert watch-list of Nigerian government officials, an allegations which observers say was a fabrication by Ambassador Felix Oboro, the Nigerian ambassador to Venezuela, whom the diplomat had earlier accused of misappropriating funds belonging to the mission.

According to the Leadership Newspapers, though the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is said to be looking at ways of resolving the disagreement between both senior diplomats, Ajayi is reported not to be receiving any consular assistance with the Venezuelan authorities due to the fact that he joined the ministry in his suit in court which he initiated to fight his deportation from the country.

While stating its position on the matter, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently released a statement saying investigation is in progress to look into the allegations of misconduct bordering on drug trafficking and misappropriation of funds against Ambassador Oboro and it would not be stampeded to recall him.

This position is seen in some quarters as been sympathetic to Ambassador Oboro.

The statement said the reports against Oboro “will remain mere allegations until proven to be true on the basis of factual evidence, which in this case had not been adduced. The ministry does not dwell on rumours that are not backed by evidence”.

It concluded by saying that the ministry will take a decision only after the Foreign Service Inspectorate conclude its investigation into the allegations.

We hope this impasse, involving those saddled with the responsibility of positively projecting Nigeria’s image, is promptly resolved so as to save the country further damage to its image abroad.

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