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 sludge 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 illegal custody in Cape Verde, merely to satisfy the whims of a super power be brought to an end forthwith as has been ordered by a binding unanimous ECOWAS Court ruling on December 2, 2020.
The AfBA President who made this call in a world Press Conference in Lagos this week, 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 its 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 completely 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, he is stripped of his diplomatic privileges against ECOWAS Court injunction. To add to this savagery, he is viciously and frantically being packaged for prized delivery to the US by Cape Verde government, facilitated by enormous pressure through 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 unapologetically relentless and persistent to see the rule of law 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 ironic and sinfully pathetic that the choice of location for this scheme of intransigence is in Africa, by a sovereign African nation, that is signatory to AU Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, and the ECOWAS protocols on equality of nations. This is not withstanding the open fact that Ambassador Saab is a legally documented diplomatic citizen of Venezuela 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, like a scripted charade to massage the rampaging convenience of a foreign nation with no mutual extradition treaty, he has been bizarrely detained unlawfully since, against international customary laws and practice, his diplomatic immunity and cognate inviolability regardless.
The ingenious recourse to manufacturing evidence after the act of illegality by Cape Verde, to salvage such a grievous violence of this proportion, is at best, 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 recklessly.
We are not unaware through our findings from thorough investigations that the intensity by which the promoters of this aberration and its misdirected enforcers, are bent to drink from their arrogant brew with usual benign appetite simply to ridicule our continent, Africa. But we convinced by merit in 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 foment a scary rapid descent to anarchy and chaos, and Africa must not serve as the willing guinea pig for such theatres of absurdity any longer, we counsel.
Pix: L- R, Collins Steve Ugwu, Media Consultant to Africa Bar Association (AfBA) and Mr Hannibal Uwaifo, President of AfBA.