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The Nigerian High Commission in Ottawa, Canada, has shutdown activities indefinitely.
A statement posted on the High Commission’s website said the development followed the abuse of a system it put in place to attend to a limited number of persons due to COVID-19 protocols.
“The High Commission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Canada wishes to inform Nigerian communities in Canada and the general public that the mission remains closed to the public,” it said.
“The special intervention arrangement whereby emergency cases were being handled on a discretionary basis is hereby suspended.”
According to the Commission, the system was set up to help Nigerians who had compelling passport renewal request and wanted to assist them.
“Our citizens for some reason chose to abuse this system, they would show up at the chancery without an appointment and insist on being attended to even on days when we were not open to the public at all,” the commission, however, said.
It explained that matters came to a head on Friday, August, 14 when a group showed up at the High Commission and did not let the Embassy staff attend to those who had appointments.
“They went as far as holding a female staff member who went to address them, hostage, for over twenty minutes and subjected her to physical abuse,” the commission added.
“This kind of conduct is considered unnecessarily hostile and totally unacceptable and no embassy would tolerate conduct that puts the lives of its staff members at risk.”
While acknowledging that the closure of the airspace is limiting its ability to “bring much-needed passport booklets into the country” and is an area it will work on, the Nigerian High Commission disclosed that it is “considering ways to make our premises more secure and less susceptible to unruly behaviour and violent mob action.
Nigerians whose work or study permits have expired since March 2020, and who do not have a valid passport, have a grace period that lasts until December 31, according to the High Commission.
“By this time we expect to have resolved some of the challenging issues that COVID-19 has created,” the statement added.