NigeriaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s minister of Foreign Affairs, Olugbenga Ashiru, yesterday said that no Nigerian has died or is being harassed in Libya.
According to him, his assertion followed on discussion between Nigeria and officials of the National Transition Council (NTC) of the embattled North African country.
He also said there was nothing hasty about NigeriaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s decision to recognise the NTC in Libya, noting that in taking the position on Libya, Nigeria was patient and always hoping that the superior logic of dialogue would prevail.
The minister, who spoke at a media briefing to mark President Goodluck JonathanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 100 days in office, maintained that if Nigeria had not taken the stand, there would have been more bloodshed and the victims would have turned to blame Nigeria.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Nigerians were being protected in Libya as a result of the recognition accorded to the NTC, which is the group we felt was gaining ground,Ã¢â‚¬Â Mr Ashiru said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“A Nigerian in Libya sent out a text message which was forwarded to me. I put a call across to him and he happens to be the leader of Nigerians in that country. I assured him of safety and also called the NTC that no harm must come to any Nigerian and, in fact, any black in Libya and they assured them that nothing will happen to them. So no Nigerian has died in Libya.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Reasons for decision
On why Nigeria supported the NTC, he explained that NigeriaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s over-riding interest in Libya are threefold: Ã¢â‚¬Å“One, to achieve an early end to the conflict, thereby preventing further loss of innocent lives, regardless of who the culprits are.
Two, to support processes which would allow the Libyan people decide the future of their country. This is consistent with our new foreign policy focus to support the consolidation of democracy in Africa.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“In taking the position we took on the Libyan crisis, Nigeria was patient, always hoping that the superior logic of dialogue would prevail. For instance, our support for the AU Road Map was premised on the expectation that the protagonists would see the wisdom in embracing dialogue rather that a recuse to military solution.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The AU Road Map, therefore, failed because of lack of faith on the part of the belligerents. In the circumstance, Nigeria had to act to reaffirm its leadership and also to continue to demonstrate our countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s commitment to the consolidation of democracy in Africa, a value which is central to our countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s new foreign policy focus.Ã¢â‚¬Â