Indonesia’s foreign ministry expressed its regret on Thursday after a senior Nigerian diplomat was forcibly restrained by immigration officers in Jakarta, prompting the African country to recall its ambassador to Abuja for consultations.
A video of the incident, widely shared on social media and sparking outrage among users, shows the visibly distressed man being restrained inside a vehicle by several men.
“I can’t breathe,” he says at one point in the video, yelling out as his head is pinned to the seat.
The Nigerian foreign ministry described the man as an “accredited Nigerian diplomatic agent” at the Nigerian embassy in Jakarta without revealing his name.
Indonesian foreign ministry spokesperson Teuku Faizasyah said on Thursday the ministry regretted the Aug. 7 incident, and was continuing to communicate with the Nigerian government on the matter.
“That incident was an isolated incident and does not have anything to do with Indonesia’s commitment to performing its duties as a host country as per Vienna conventions on diplomatic relations,” he said.
“The law and human rights ministry has launched an internal investigation as a follow up to that incident.”
The Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama strongly condemned the incident, calling it “an egregious act of international delinquency by Indonesian state actors”.
“The Nigerian government demands appropriate sanctions against the relevant officials and has recalled its ambassador in Indonesia for consultations, including a review of bilateral relations,” Esther Sunsuwa, a foreign ministry spokesperson, said in a statement on Wednesday.
Indonesia’s immigration office defended the actions of its officers, saying the diplomat had been “uncooperative” when questioned in front of a Jakarta apartment.
Ibnu Chuldun, the head of the Jakarta law and human rights agency that oversees immigration, told a streamed news conference on Thursday the diplomat had refused to show his identity cards and subsequently attempted to break the car window with an e-cigarette when apprehended, causing an injury to one officer.
“Immigration has launched an internal coordination to improve on the operational standards when taking action and monitoring on foreigners,” he said.