The Nigerian High Commission in Ottawa, Canada has shutdown indefinitely after a female staff member was held hostage and subjected to physical abuse.
In a statement published on its website, the commission said it has suspended its various activities indefinitely until further notice due to lack of passport booklets and unruly behaviour of applicants.
Recounting how a female staff member was held hostage and subjected to physical abuse on August 14, 2020, the commission said the attack was carried out by a group who showed up and refused to allow embassy staff members to attend to those who had appointments.
“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.”
According to the Commission, the system was set up to help Nigerians who had compelling passport renewal request and wanted to assist them.
It said it had devised a system in which citizens with emergency cases were attended to strictly by appointment that allowed a limited number of people into the chancery at a time in compliance with the laid-down rules of physical distancing.
“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 the a most unruly manner, disturbing the peace and acting in an abusive manner, banging windows,” it said.
It further stated that things got worse on August 14, when a group of applicants caused mayhem at the embassy, refusing people entrance and holding a staff member hostage for several minutes.
“Matters came to a head on Friday August 14, 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 20 minutes and subjected them 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,” it added.
The commission also said the closure of the air space has impaired the transportation of passport booklets into the country.
”For individuals trying to renew work and study permits, the commission asked them to apply for renewals online. At the appropriate time, applicants would be asked to submit appropriate documentation,” the commission said.
“If you do not have a valid passport when this happens you may ask for a 90 day grace period which would be granted.
“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.”
KanyiDaily had also reported how some Nigerians in Indonesia attacked the Nigerian Embassy in Jakarta over alleged discrimination and infringement of their rights by Indonesian immigration officials.