By Adedayo Akinwale
Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) has denied the arrest of Nigerians at the Nigerian mission in Switzerland.
The NIDCOM Head of Media and Public Relations Unit, Mr. Abdur-Rahman Balogun, disclosed this in a statement issued on Wednesday.
According to him, “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.”
Balogun said in line with Covid-19 protocols, the Embassy in Bern, Switzerland, was only allowed to attend to 10 applicants, but the mission worked out a programme that made it possible to attend to a maximum of 20 daily, spacing out the appointments.
He said: “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 on line.”
He stressed that 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.
Balogun said while the Nigerian Ambassador to Switzerland, Ambassador 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.
He stated: “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 on line to calm down, while they were given phone numbers and e-mail to access, book an appointment and make their online payments.”
Balogun 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, with an assurance that everyone would be attended to as long as they abide by the rules.
He stressed further that the affected Nigerians left the hall peacefully, only to the surprise of Swiss officers of the Embassy protection unit and the mission that some of them recorded a video which definitely misrepresented the true scenario.