by Linda Straker
- Tochukwu Nwaneri appeared on a list of diplomats with nullified appointments
- Notice published in 22 September 2023 edition of Government Gazette
- Nwaneri listed as Honourary Consul with no jurisdiction attached
There appears to be a mystery surrounding the appointment of Nigerian businessman Tochukwu Nwaneri, also known as Tochil Nwaneri, as an Ambassador at Large to Grenada. While the previous and current administrations have denied approving his designation, his name has appeared on a list of 89 diplomats whose appointments were nullified from 8 August 2023.
A Notice published in the 22 September 2023 edition of the Government Gazette signed by Roxie McLeish, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, listed the names of the diplomatic appointments. No dates were provided for the start of these appointments, and some did not have a designated country or State. Nwaneri was listed as an Honourary Consul with no jurisdiction attached to his name.
When specifically asked about Nwaneri’s appointment during a news conference on Tuesday, 3 October, former Prime Minister and current Opposition leader Dr Keith Mitchell said that he could not recall, and has asked other former cabinet ministers about it and they are oblivious to the name. “I asked those who were involved, as you know most of these things originated through foreign affairs before it reached the cabinet, and we asked that they be checked by security forces to know their background. In my case as Prime Minister, I hardly ever knew the individuals myself,” he said.
“I have asked around and none of the Cabinet members that I have asked could recall the name of that person coming up in the Cabinet, because I did not want to make a statement saying that it did not happen in our time and then to find out that it did. In every case they have said that they did not see that application,” said Dr Mitchell.
He further explained that his administration had adopted a policy that people who want to become Ambassadors at Large, should pay US$150,000 to the Technical Fund. However, before they were accepted, they would be vetted through a due diligence process that involves local and international security forces.
In early July 2022, Nwaneri issued a press release that was published in at least 3 Nigerian online news sites claiming that Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell appointed him as an Ambassador at Large for Nigeria. Mitchell, who at the time was in the position of prime minister for less than three weeks, denied this.
In a news conference shortly after, Mitchell admitted to accepting a courtesy call from Nwaneri and a photograph with both of them was captured during the visit. The same photograph was attached to the publications. “When I met the gentleman, I was not under the impression, nor did he convey to me that he was appointed as any diplomat,” Prime Minister Mitchell back then.