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Nigeria Summons Egyptian Ambassador, Demands Apology For Treatment Of Nigerian Teenager

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The Nigerian government through the foreign ministry has summoned the Egyptian ambassador to Nigeria, Ashraf Salama to formally show its displeasure at the treatment meted out to a 17-year old Nigerian, Joshua Abdul-Azeez by the Egypt’s national carrier, Egypt Air.

Minister of state for foreign affairs Viola Onwuliri, said Egypt Air was culpable of child abuse for starving the teenager of food for three days, after routing his air ticket wrongly.

She also said Egypt Air’s failure to respond to inquiries from the Nigerian embassy in Cairo over the tearing of the teenager’s passport by a staff of the airline in Istanbul, Turkey as unacceptable.

She also expressed shock over the Egyptian ambassador’s  initial response, which was to question the validity of the report of the maltreatment of Abdul-Azeez.

She said: “Egypt and Nigeria are friendly countries and they have built this friendship over the years, but I don’t think we should allow things like this to happen, You (the ambassador) are worried about four pages of newspaper report on the issue, but I am surprised that you are not worried that a Nigerian passport was torn by an official of Egypt Air. I am surprised that you are not worried that a young boy, a Nigerian citizen, was left without food and water by an airline operated by your government. I am really surprised at you Mr. Ambassador. One Nigerian citizen is important to us and part of our multi-track diplomacy is that every Nigeria everywhere must be fully accounted for. The young boy in questions was going back to school in Ukraine and he complained here that he was issued the wrong ticket. Did you (Egypt Air) employ people who cannot read tickets and issue correct codes even after complaints,’’ she said.

Onwuliri therefore demanded an explanation and an unreserved apology from the Egyptian government which is in total control of the activities of Egypt Air.

On his part, Samara had earlier blamed the Nigerian media for sensationalizing a “small incident”, adding that a Nigerian tabloid had gone as far as devoting four pages to the matter.

He said he had contacted the Egyptian government and the management of Egypt Air but had not yet received an official report.

In his words: “We have respect for our Nigerian brothers and if this incident really happened, we will see who is responsible and punish accordingly. But we must taste and verify the credibility of the news report on the issue before we make a judgment. I do not think this incident should escalate so much to affect our good relations built over the years. We have been supporting and standing by each other and I think we should continue that way.”

 

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