Nigeria’s High Commission in Canada has been shutdown following attacks on its staff by some Nigerians seeking passport renewal.
According to a press statement posted on the portal of the High Commission, the decision to close the Mission became inevitable after some irate Nigerians who had “compelling passport renewal requests” “acted in a most unruly manner, disturbing the peace and acting in an abusive manner, banging windows etc.” The High Commission said some of the people seeking passport renewal came to the Chancery without an appointment. On what led to the crisis, the High Commission said following directives from Abuja and public health guidelines issued by the province of Ontario, Canada, informed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mission was closed and the staff asked to work from home.
The Mission said it was, however, conscious of the need to assist Nigerians who had compelling passport renewal requests and consequently “devised a system in which citizens with emergency cases were being attended to strictly by appointment on designated days of the week. This enabled us to admit a limited number of people into the chancery at a time and observe the laid down rules of physical and social distancing.”
The statement read in part: “matters came to a head on Friday august 14, 2020 when a group showed up at the high commission and refused to allow the Mission 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. Applications for renewals should be made online
“We would also like to draw attention to the fact that with the closure of the air space our ability to bring much needed passport booklets into the country has been impaired. This is another area we intend to focus on.”
The High Commission advised those who do not have a valid passport to ask for a 90 day grace period which would be granted.