Leadership (Abuja)

31 July 2012

Nigeria Wades Into Former Diplomat's Problem With Venezuela

Foreign Minister Olugbenga Ashiru on Tuesday in Abuja said the Nigerian former diplomat detained in Venezuela had retired from service and no longer enjoyed diplomatic immunity.

"The information at my disposal is that Mr Olarotimi Ajayi ceased to be a diplomat some months ago because he has retired; nonetheless, he is a Nigerian and we are working towards his release," Ashiru said told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

The minister was commenting on reports that Ajayi, who served in Venezuela, had been detained for fraud since July 19 by authorities in that country.

"He is a retired diplomat; what happened is that he must have over stayed his permit and he travelled out of the country on return he was arrested. Nevertheless, as a Nigerian and a former diplomat, we have contacted the Venezuela authorities to ensure his release," the minister said.

He said that Ajayi, having retired from service, should have regularised his stay in Venezuela.

"That is what we keep saying, people who want to stay in a particular country should have valid papers. If you were staying there as a diplomat and your term has expired and you still continue to stay under a wrong term, then that will be problematic."

The minister said the case was being addressed like that of any Nigerian facing consular challenges as Ajayi no longer had the privilege given to foreign service officers. NAN

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