Zee Media Bureau/Ajith Vijay Kumar
New Delhi/Panaji: Amid simmering diplomatic tension between New Delhi and Abuja, the Goa Police on Wednesday arrested one person in connection with the murder of a Nigerian national in south Goa.
The arrested person has been identified as Suren Paul, 24, who is suspected to have links with the drug mafia.
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Nigerian Obodo Simon was found dead with stab wounds in Parra near Mapusa in south Goa, triggering massive protests from hundreds of Nigerians who blocked a road and resorted to violence. The hooligans beat up locals and even policemen. Over 50 Nigerians were arrested following the violence.
The incident led to widespread anger and resentment in Goans. Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar responded by ordering a massive combing operation to locate Nigerians and other foreign nationals staying without visa and other documentation.
The CM said that the murder was fall-out of a gang rivalry in the drug trade.
Tokunbo Falohun, Minister-Press in the Nigerian High Commission had demanded that the guilty should be immediately apprehended and brought to justice and that Simon’s family should be compensated.
However, what has complicated the matter is a threat issued by a Nigerain diplomat that Indians living in Nigeria could be targeted if those responsible for the Goa murder were not arrested and the Goa Police`s campaign to evict the Nigerians did not stop.
"There are only 50,000 Nigerians living in India but there are over a million Indians living in Nigeria. Thousands of Indians living there will be thrown out on the streets if the forcible eviction of Nigerians in Goa does not stop," Jacob Nwadadia, Nigeria`s consular attaché, was quoted as saying.
By opposing the action being taken by the Goa government against all foreign nationals, who are staying in the state without valid documents, the Nigerian government has clearly crossed the line.
What has made the situation worse is that it is trying to arm twist the Indian government into submission on the matter.
Reacting to the statement by the diplomat, Falohun said if the matter was "justifiably" dealt with, then there will not be any repercussion. "There is a large Indian community working in Nigeria. There are two temples in Lagos and all Indians have freedom to worship and for their other activities. We also are demanding the same," he said.
On the other hand, New Delhi appears keen to solve the matter amiably and has assured Abuja that all issues will be addressed in a cooperative manner.
MEA`s official spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said, "MEA has assured Nigeria that we have excellent bilateral relations and that the issue will be settled in a cooperative manner in line with our friendly ties."
The Centre is also keen that the Goa government does its bit to ensure that the issue is resolved. As per reports, the Centre has requested the state government to submit a fresh report on the alleged murder of the Nigerian national.
However, the Goa government appears to be in no mood to relent and is going ahead with what it perceives as just action. It has a case when it says that Nigerians or for that matter any foreign national should posses valid documents to stay in Goa.
Party MLA from Calangute Michael Lobo said that those who foreign nationals who take admission in colleges in Delhi and staying in Goa for 11 months of the year should be probed.
The Goa Congress has also demanded strict action in the case.