Abiodun Ibrahim’s Story

by Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku

Letter to political officer @ Consulate General, Lagos Nigeria: Mr Jeremy Chen.

Hi there Mr Chen.

My name is Bob MajiriOghene and I work with TELL Magazine here in Lagos Nigeria as staff writer. I guess by a stroke of ‘luck’ I had the opportunity of meeting you at the border town of Idiroko, Ogun State, Nigeria, where you represented your government in condemning those involved in child trafficking across that border. You did well, in my opinion, in patiently sitting through the whole of that programme and I must commend you for what I thought was a genuine interest in what was happening at that border town.
But there’s another matter, Mr Chen, I hope you should be really interested as the political officer attached to the United States Consulate General in Lagos, Nigeria. It has to do with Abiodun Ibrahim, who claims he is a naturalized American who served time at the Harris County Jail in Houston Texas, after he was beaten to a state of paralysis by the officers of that jail. He said he was at the foot of your embassy for nearly ten years in a peaceful protest, until he decided to take his case to the National Assembly here in Nigeria. That move yielded a response, at least from your outgoing ambassador, Mr Campbell, who developed cold feet at the last minute, claiming diplomatic immunity, from testifying to the National Assembly committee on ethics and privileges that summoned him to state your government’s side of what is now becoming the Abiodungate scandal. On my part, I thought Abiodun Ibrahim’s story has some merit, especially as he has been consistent with the story he has told for almost a decade now. I guess that was why we thought we should hear your own part of the story. But you guys are not talking. In a letter signed by my editors and sent to your information office, the USIS, and personally delivered by me since June 2007, we wanted to get your side of the fresh developments that concern his case. But there’s been no response from you so far.

Jeremy Chen

Well, all roads have not led to Ephesus so far in your refusal (for so it seems) to attend to Abiodun Ibrahim and I guess you have a right to remain silent concerning Abiodun Ibrahim. But Mr Chen, I must assure you that if you continue to keep silent concerning this man, that long and arduous journey such as the one you embarked upon to Idiroko in Ogun state on behalf of your government is a waste. Why do I say so? Well, I say so because not talking, to me in particular, is something I consider un-American. It is little matters like this that has led to the little pockets of hatred that some people have for your country despite the efforts and the billions of dollars you spend all over the world in projecting America as the good guy.

What every Nigerian who knows about Abiodun Ibrahim need now is for you to come on out and tell us what we really want to know, thus: is Abiodun Ibrahim really an American or a Nigerian? Does he qualify for disability benefits? Have you paid any monies to him? And what do you hope to achieve by leaving him out there in the rain and cold for ten whole years?

Thank you for your time, Mr Chen.

Postscript: Mr Jeremy Chen has since responded to this letter by prodding officials at the United States Information, USIS, Centre to make a statement. He also asked us to see a certain Helen Hudson, probably a staff of the American Embassy here in Lagos Nigeria.
All of this leads nowhere because we still do not know why Abiodun Ibrahim, a Nigerian-American who claims he was paralyzed from beatings from the officials at the Harris County jail in Houston Texas, about a decade ago cannot get attention from the US government, through their embassy or through whatever means possible.

I want to urge you all in the Diaspora, and to everyone, to call Mr Chen and the ambassador and demand an explanation and ask him to do something concerning Abiodun Ibrahim. If there are any congressmen where you are that I can talk with, please let me have their contacts, preferably an email. The senator here, Olorunimibe Mamora, who handled Abiodun Ibrahim’s case at the Senate ethics and privileges committee on public complaints, and whose committee summoned the out gone US Ambassador, Mr Campbell, to give testimony concerning Abiodun Ibrahim, seemingly is too busy to talk with me. If you could, please call him on his cell phone, and ask to know why he suddenly dropped Abiodun’s case and allegedly became very hostile to him. His cell phone number is: 234-802-311 8862. Abiodun Ibrahim’s cell phone number is 234-805-992 4050.

The US Embassy in Lagos Nigeria is beginning to have a human face, what with the construction of a podium to shelter the horde of visa applicants to their country. That is why, I think, there’s no better time than now for you to do something (whatever) about bringing about a conclusive resolution of Abiodun Ibrahim’s case.

I thank you for your time.

majirioghene@yahoo.com, 234-1-703-106 8186

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1 comment

oluyole2@yahoo.com October 8, 2008 - 6:07 am

If Abiodun is truly an American and was beaten into paralysis by government officials in Houston, I would think that one of the options open to him is to return to the US and file a lawsuit. He can contact his Congressman or Congresswoman and they will help him seek respite. As an American, no one can prevent him from returning to his country. And if he is entitled to any form of disability payments, I am sure he will receive them.

Camping out in front of the US embassy in Nigeria would do very little for him.


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