Nigeria recalls Libya ambassador as Gaddafi row escalates

Muammur Gaddafi, file image

Muammar Gaddafi’s comments have sparked anger in Nigeria

The House of Representatives has summoned the Libyan Ambassador to Nigeria for questions as the Government recalled its ambassador to Libya after leader Muammar Gaddafi suggested Nigeria be divided into two states – one Christian and one Muslim.

The Nigerian foreign ministry said the Libyan leader’s statement was “irresponsible”. Earlier in the week a senator had called Col Gaddafi a “mad man”. Senate President David Mark said that Libyan President Muammar Ghadaffi is a “mad man” for advocating the breakup of Nigeria into two as a solution to the religious and sectarian crises in the country.

In similar vein, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has described Ghaddafi’s statement as reckless, warning the Libyan leader to mind his business and not to dabble into the internal affairs of Nigeria.

During debates in the House of Reps, The Lawmakers were incensed and the Lawmakers want envoy to answer questions concerning the Libyan Leaders statement that Nigeria should be split into two.

A Rep told the House that in 1981, Ghadafi wanted to export terrorists to Nigeria. Some however, see Ghadafi’s statement as a wakeup call to the Federal Government to address the multifarious ills plaguing the Nation. A Rep exhorted the Government to realise that the Nations problems will continue to attract international opprobrium and make Nigeria a laughing stock until they are solved.  

Col Gaddafi had suggested the split to prevent any more bloodshed between rival groups in central Nigeria.

Hundreds have died this year in ethnic and religious violence around Jos.

Although the violence in Nigeria generally takes place between Muslim and Christian communities, the underlying causes are a complex mix of political, social and economic grievances.

Nigeria is roughly split between its largely Muslim north, and a Christian-dominated south.

In a statement, the foreign ministry said it was recalling its Tripoli ambassador for “urgent negotiations” because of the “irresponsible utterances of Colonel Gaddafi”.

“His theatrics and grandstanding at every auspicious occasion have become too numerous to recount,” said the statement. 

Col Gaddafi, until recently head of the African Union, praised the partition of India in 1947 as the kind of “historic, radical solution” that could benefit Nigeria.

Splitting India in 1947 caused a breakdown of law and order in which at least 200,000 people died. Some estimates say one million people were killed.

About 12 million people were left homeless and thousands were raped.

An attempt by the Igbo people of south-eastern Nigeria to secede in 1967 sparked a war which left more than one million people dead.

Mark, who presided at plenary yesterday during a debate on a motion seeking to condemn the bomb explosions that rocked Warri on Monday at a post-amnesty dialogue, said Ghadaffi’s inflammatory statement should not be taken seriously.

The Senate President tore Ghadaffi apart when the Chair of the Committee on Aviation Anyim Ude moved to add another prayer to the motion that the Upper House should condemn inflammatory statements made by people within and outside the country.

The ACF, in a statement yesterday by its Publicity Secretary Mr. Anthony Sani, said Gaddafi’s remarks should not be taken seriously because it ignored the nature of the Nigerian society or nation state. The group argued that it is important for feuding parties to realise that war cannot achieve anything positive.

The group added that the access to the nation’s resources must be seen to be fair and just to all.

All perpetrators of violence must also be brought to book irrespective of their religion or ethnicity, it added.

“The situation in Plateau State calls for purposeful leadership at all levels and for true reconciliation among the people. It is not for Gaddafi to dabble into the internal affairs of Nigeria,” the ACF concluded.