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African Bar union kicks against detention of Venezuela envoy by Cape Verde

Press Release — The President of the African Bar Association (AfBA) and Nigerian Human Rights Advocate, Mr Hannibal Uwaifo Esq. has called on the African Heads of States and governments to rise as a body, and pointedly persuade the authorities of the Cape Verde Island to rescue itself from the diplomatic mud of holding on to Ambassador Alex Saab, a doubly accredited Venezuela Special Envoy and Alternate permanent representative to the African Union.

We demand that Alex Saab should be released immediately and his persecution and chastisement in custody illegally in Cape Verde merely to satisfy the whims of a super power be brought to an end immediately as ordered by the binding unanimous ECOWAS Court ruling on December 2, 2020.

The AfBA President who made the call in a world Press Conference in Lagos said that “the continued detention of Ambassador Saab since June 2020 for possible extradition to the United States, in circumstances that manifestly violate settled global diplomatic virtues and statutes, as contained in the Vienna Convention, was upon diligent investigation by the Human Rights Committee and review by the AFBA Executive Committee, found to be clearly below the accepted international rules of engagements, and therefore not only unsanitary but totally unsalutory to Africa’s collective diplomatic decency and stature.

“We acted on the petition of Ambassador Saab’s wife which revealed that aside her husband being a known cancer patient, denied his drugs, denied access to family and defense attorneys, stripped of his diplomatic privileges against ECOWAS Court injunction to the contrary, he is viciously and frantically being packaged for delivery to the US by Cape Verde government, facilitated by enormous pressure through a contrived extradition procurement, with unimaginable damage to our civility and civilization, if ever allowed to stand in any African soil”.

For us in AfBA, as a continental body of lawyers dedicated to the primacy of the rule of law, as the most disruptive evolution for human governance, our moral and professional duty is relentless and persistent to see it respected, preserved, improved on, not liberally pissed upon as the case under reference by President Jorge Carlos Fonseca and Prime Minister Ulisses Correia Silva of Cape Verde.

It is more pathetic that the choice for this scheme of intransigence is in Africa by a sovereign African nation, a participatory signatory to AU Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, and ECOWAS protocols, on a documented diplomatic citizen with no known crime and offense in the land of his capture, detention and incarceration.

That is not only a flagrant abuse of the elementary principles of the rule of law, but also an aggravating circumstance for the intentional culpability by Cape Verde.

It should be noted for clarity, that Ambassador Saab, as a Special Envoy of Venezuela duly accredited to the AU, was travelling in that persona from Caracas to Teheran on June 12 2020.

His plane made a technical refuelling stop on the Cape Verdean Island of Sal, and then pronto, for the convenience of a foreign nation with no mutual extradition treaty, has been bizarrely detained unlawfully since, against international customary laws and practice, his immunity and cognate inviolability.

The ingenious recourse to manufacturing evidence after the act of illegality by Cape Verde, to salvage such a grievous violence of this proportion, is a base dimension that will prostitute Africa’s emerging credentials and respectability in the comity of nations, with dire predatory consequences if allowed to fester and ferment.

The time to show resolve to nip this diplomatic sacrilege in the bud is now hence we request the United nations, our courts of competent jurisdictions and the global community not to stand aloof, more so as judicial processes embarked on by Ambassador Saab through his resilient attorneys are being vexatiously denied the fruits of their wins deliberately.

We are not unaware through our findings, the intensity by which the promoters of this aberration and its misdirected enforcers, are determined to drink from their brew with usual benign appetite to ridicule the continent, but we convinced by merit to common humanity, that a better toast actually lies in the universal spring of obedience to the rule of law, and faithful respect to its prowess to convict or set free, punish or reward individuals whether low or high, weak or powerful.

That is why international rules and conventions are made, signed and sealed by sovereign signatories as binding for unequivocal compliance without the leisure of cherry picking.

To allow otherwise will be a scary rapid descent to anarchy and chaos and Africa must serve as willing guinea pig for such theatre of absurdity anymore.

Collins Steve Ugwu
Media Adviser, AFBA

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