The Nigeria High Commission in Ottawa, Canada, has closed its office to the public over what it described as a violent mob on its workers by Nigerians during application for passport renewal.
This was announced in a statement issued by the Commission entitled: “Notice On Provision Of Consular Services.”
According to the Commission, special intervention arrangements whereby emergency cases were being handled on a discretionary basis has also been suspended.
The statement explained that a group of Nigerians had stormed the Commission on 14 August and refused to allow the Embassy staff members to attend to persons scheduled for appointments.
The Commission noted that one of its female employees was reportedly held hostage by the group of protesting Nigerians.
The statement read: “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.
“The special intervention arrangement whereby emergency cases were being handled on a discretionary basis is hereby suspended.”
“The mission realised that a number of our citizens have compelling passport renewal requests and we wanted to be able to assist such individuals in a responsible manner.
“We devised a system in which citizens with emergency cases were being attended to strictly by appointment on designated days of the week.
“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.
“On a number of occasions, people seeking passport renewal came to the chancery without an appointment and acted in a most unruly manner, disturbing the peace and acting in an abusive manner, banging windows, etc.
“Matters came to a head on Friday, August 14, 2020 when a group showed up at the High Commission and refused to allow the Embassy staff members to attend to those who had appointments.
“They insisted that we had to attend to everybody who showed up.
“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.
“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.
“We are closing down the Embassy and we shall be considering ways to make our premises more secure and less susceptible to unruly behaviour and violent mob action.
“Nigerian citizens whose study or work permits have expired since March 2020 and who do not have a valid passport have a grace period that lasts until December 31st 2020.
“By this time, we expect to have resolved some of the challenging issues that COVID-19 has created.”