Members of the House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora Affairs on Thursday were left stunned after the Lebanese ambassador to Nigeria, Houssam Diab, walked out on them.
It was gathered that he walked out after he had arrived thinking that the meeting was going to be held indoors, but met journalists and some other government officials, including Zubairu Dada, minister of state for foreign affairs.
The sight of journalists reportedly made him walk away.
The Committee had summoned Diab over the alleged ill-treatment of Nigerians in Lebanon, particularly Temitope Ariwolo, a 31 years old woman, who was abused by her employers in Lebanon and prevented from leaving the country.
The chairman of the committee, Tolulope Sadipe, who was shocked by the development, quickly called for an executive session.
Some other members of the committee, however, went after the ambassador, and later, held a closed door session.
Akande-Sadipe said the meeting was cordial, and the walk-out was a misunderstanding.
“It was an informal meeting because the ambassador was nice enough to join us at the meeting. There is no law that says he has to be here today, but because he has an interest in the joint relationship between Nigeria and Lebanon,” she said.
“It was a misunderstanding, it meant to be an informal meeting and the ambassador was not aware that even when we have our informal meeting is documented. Because of the law of diplomacy, he wasn’t expecting to have media there and it was immediately resolved that it was going to be an executive session. The minister apologised on behalf of foreign affairs and he apologised on behalf of the country and the Embassy of Lebanon.
“We have a lot of Nigerians in Lebanon, we have a lot of Lebanese in Nigeria. We have a relationship with Lebanon from the 50s so you can imagine how we have been.
“This meeting today has further reiterated the Lebanese community and the Nigerian community we always stand together to ensure that justice and respect for human lives is a priority and we will work together to bring modern-day slavery to an end.”
She said the Lebanese government had also agreed to release Arowolo and other Nigerians held in the country.
“I am happy to inform Nigerians that Temitope will be home before the end of the week, and so many other Nigerians who want to come home from Lebanon the opportunity will be provided for them to come home,” she said.
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