The Embassy of Nigeria in Germany has issued a public notice calling on people dealing with the Embassy to report any officials or other persons who demand bribes or any other illegitimate gratifications from them.
The Notice, dated 17 November 2020, reads:
“The general public is hereby informed to report cases of persons soliciting for money or any form of gratification in favour of issuance of passport/visa or any other services to firstname.lastname@example.org addressed to the Ambassador.”
The Embassy issued the notice ostensibly in reaction to a scandalous video showing one of its employees, who cannot be named for legal reasons, demanding sex from a Nigerian woman living in Germany to facilitate issuance of passport.
The video, which went viral on Monday, depicts the said official in a compromising situation in an hotel room, where he had planned a rendezvous with the woman.
The video, which has sparked widespread anger in the Nigerian community in Germany, is the first concrete evidence that some unscrupulous officials of the embassy do indeed demand for illegitimate gratifications to facilitate service delivery at the Embassy.
Stories of bribe taking by the Embassy’s local staff or persons posing as agents to officials working at the diplomatic mission have been flying around for several years. However, none of the victims has officially complained to the Embassy, which has always denied that its officials were corrupt. The video evidence has obviously forced it to act by publishing the latest notice.
However, some Nigerians have criticised the reaction of the Embassy as inadequate. “Asking people to report corruption through an email that the embassy normally uses for general purposes doesn’t sound serious,” an official of a Nigerian association, who would not like to be named in this report, said on a community WhatsApp forum. “They need a dedicated email and WhatsApp number, accessible only to the person charged with taking complaints. Complainants also need to be assured of the protection of their identity and that they need not fear any reprisals,” he said.
To be fair, a principal official of the Embassy had last year charged Nigerians with complaints of extortion to come forward. The appeal was made by Alhaji Mohammed Bello Musa Anka, Minister in charge of the Consular & Immigration Section, while speaking in Dortmund at the annual general meeting of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Germany.
“Nobody should take money from you,” he had said. “If anybody demands for money for anything, it’s wrong. And we must stop it.”
The diplomat even called on Nigerians to resist any attempts to make them pay money for whatever services at the Embassy. “If anybody demands money from you, call us to inform us. We will punish anybody found guilty of taking money from people,” Mr Anka had assured.
Meanwhile, the Embassy has announced on its website that it’s currently experiencing a shortage of passport booklets.
The Notification sent out by the Passport section, reads:
“This is to inform the general public that due to temporary shortage of booklets, it is not possible to issue the passport the same day. From Monday, 23rd November, 2020 the Embassy will not be able to process applications beyond capturing.
“Note, this is only a temporary situation which will change as soon as booklets are available.
“Thank you very much for your cooperation.”
Nigerians are currently experiencing difficulties in renewing their passport as appointments are difficult to obtain. This is causing those affected extreme hardship, including having to stop working because their residence permits have been rendered invalid. The Embassy has repeatedly assured it’s working hard to clear the backlog of appointments, which it attributes to the shutdown of the chancery early in the year due to the coronavirus pandemic, and restore normal, timely service delivery.