The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) has provided details of an incident at the Nigerian Embassy in Switzerland that allegedly led to the arrest of some Nigerians who wanted to procure their passports.
A trending video on social media had alleged that the embassy invited police to arrest the Nigerians.
In a statement issued by NiDCOM spokesman, Abdur-Rahman Balogun, on Wednesday, the commission explained that the mission did not call the police as stated in the video. It said the video misrepresented the true scenario.
The diaspora commission further explained that the mission had the capacity of attending to a maximum of 20 persons daily due to COVID-19 protocols.
It stated that about 64 Nigerians had besieged the Nigerian mission in Bern to procure their passports but only 10 of them had appointments.
NiDCOM said, apart from that, most of them had not made their online payments for the application.
The commission stated that the applicants barged in through the front door of the embassy and overcrowded a hall that was meant to receive only 10 people at a time, prompting officials to invite the Embassy Protection Unit to bring calm and decorum back to the hall.
It noted that those on appointment and those who had made their online payments were attended to, while others were advised to follow the due process.
“In view of the video circulating on social media alleging that the Nigerian mission in Switzerland invited police to arrest Nigerians who were at the Nigerian Embassy in Switzerland to procure their passports, it is imperative to state the facts of the matter and put the incident into the proper and true perspective,” the statement said.
“In line with Covid-19 protocols, the Embassy in Bern. Switzerland, is only allowed to attend to 10 applicants, however, the Mission worked out a program that made it possible to attend to a maximum of 20 daily, spacing out the appointments.
“But on this day, 64 Nigerians besieged the Nigerian mission in Bern, it turned out that only 10 of them were on scheduled appointment. So 54 of them had no appointment for that day. That apart, they had not made the mandatory online payment And majority of the applicants came from Italy and Spain. Without any appointment whatsoever and without any payments made online
“The Embassy only reopened after Covid-19 pandemic lockdown in July and were restricted to attending to a limited number as stipulated by the country’s Covid 19 protocol.
“It is also instructive to note as stated earlier that majority of the applicants came in from Italy and Spain without a prior appointment and without making the mandatory online payment. While the Nigerian Ambassador to Switzerland, Amb. Baba Madugu was addressing them and appealing to them to respect the Covid-19 rules in place and also follow due process, they barged in through the front door and overcrowded a hall that was meant to receive only 10 people at a time.
“The mission did not call the Police as erroneously stated in the video, but invited the Embassy Protection Unit to bring calm and decorum back to the hall.
“The men of the Embassy protection unit addressed them, looked through the appointment list and advised those not on appointment and those who had not made their payments online to calm down, while they were given phone numbers and e-mail to access, book an appointment and make their online payments.
“Those on appointment and those who had made their online payments were attended to, while others were advised to follow the due process, with an assurance that everyone will be attended to as long as the rules were abided by.
“The affected Nigerians left the hall peacefully, only to the surprise of Swiss officers of the Embassy protection unit and the mission, some of them recorded a video which definitely misrepresented the true scenario.
“The Covid-19 pandemic which has necessitated the introductions of strict protocols in these unusual times is difficult for every one and every country.
“We appeal to Nigerians abroad to be good ambassadors of Nigeria wherever they are and obey laws put in place.
“The Nigerian mission in Bern is still attending to Nigerians who follow the process, pay online and book their appointments as stipulated.”