The House of Representatives’ Committee on Diaspora Affairs on Friday denied that the Lebanese Ambassador to Nigeria, Houssam Diab, walked out on members of the committee on Thursday as reported by some people, adding that the informal meeting was cordial and constructive.
Speaking on behalf of the committee, the chairman, Hon. Tolulope Akande-Sadipe said the meeting with Houssam was not only cordial and fruitful but it also set the stage for more collaboration, adding that the perceived walk-out was misconstrued.
Houssam was said to have arrived at the meeting venue around 11:00 am but met journalists and some other government officials, including the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Zubairu Dada.
The chairperson said that the story circulating that the Lebanese Ambassador stormed out of the meeting room was wrongfully presented, adding that an executive session was not clearly presented to him by the foreign affairs Liaison Officer and he had to step out of the meeting room.
She reiterated that he did not slam any door when he stepped out to wait in the hallway till journalists were excused for the executive session, adding that “It was a misunderstanding; it was meant to be an informal meeting and the ambassador was not aware that even when we have our informal meetings it 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 apologized on behalf of foreign affairs and the executive session commenced with all in attendance.
Under the Vienna convention, an Ambassador cannot be summoned to a committee hearing and the initial presence of the media made it seem otherwise.
“It was an informal meeting and the ambassador with his interest in the long-standing cordial relationship between Nigeria and Lebanon joined us to forge a continued progressive association and solutions to the issue of Temitope Ariwolo and the menace of human trafficking,” she said.
Hon. Akande-Sadipe appreciated journalists for their coverage, but enjoined them to avoid sensational headlines that are counterproductive as “some of the headlines were a clear distortion of the reality of what happened.”
“The session commenced and ended on a very cordial note, with a resolution to continue efforts to ensure that the long-standing positive relationship between the two nations continues, stronger collaboration and a stronger resolve and commitment to end human trafficking,” she concluded.