June 2, 2011
By Ngozi Sams and Ogechi Ekeanyanwu
The ministry of foreign affairs will constitute a disciplinary committee to dig out facts surrounding the allegation of wife battery levelled against Chijioke Wigwe, the recalled Nigerian High Commissioner to Kenya, the ministry’s director of crisis management and public communications, Damian Agwu, has said.
Mr Agwu, who confirmed to NEXT that the embattled envoy has been withdrawn from the foreign service and is being investigated, said that although the withdrawal does not imply automatic sack, the envoy will face disciplinary committee and their recommendation will determine his fate.
“The former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Odein Ajumogobia last Wednesday issued a directive to the envoy to return to Nigeria,” he said.
“This is in line with rules and regulation of Foreign Service and he is expected to comply because the directive was issued before the dissolution of the Federal Executive council.”
Apart from serving as High Commissioner to Kenya, Mr. Wigwe is also the permanent representative of Nigeria to the United Nations Environmental Programme and the UN Habitat in Nairobi.
“We believe in the rule of law. The ministry may not have to sack him based on mere allegation but due process of the ministry will be followed to ensure that the truth is uncovered,” Mr Agwu said. “A disciplinary committee will be set up by the permanent secretary and their recommendation will either be upheld or dismissed by the ministry.”
Tess Iyi Wigwe, wife of the High Commissioner, had reported to the Kenyan police that her husband caused her bodily harm and should, therefore, be arrested. But the Kenyan authorities, citing the diplomatic cover of the diplomat, declined but rather sent the complaint to Nigeria.
Anger of the feminists
The wife, who said her battered face was due to beatings from her husband, said she was rescued by her 20-year-old son and 23-year-old daughter who rushed her to hospital while bleeding profusely.
Mr Wigwe denied battering his wife and expressed shock that the police had been asked to arrest him. He also blamed his wife for the crisis in their family.
However, various Nigerian women groups have rallied behind Mrs Wigwe.
The Nigerian Feminist Forum called on the President Goodluck Jonathan to remove the immunity that protects Mr Wigwe to enable his prosecution.
“International law precludes the assertion of immunity for such crimes. Whether as the crime of domestic violence under Kenyan law or torture under international law, these acts do not fall naturally or at all within the remit of an ambassador. They are, therefore, not covered by his immunity as a diplomat,” the group said.