Written by Uzoma Ahamefule
· Stops Nigerians from going into the embassy with cell phones
· POS installed at the embassy as a conduit pipe of corruption
An open letter to President Buhari, National Assembly/House of Reps. Members, Foreign Affairs Minister, and the Acting Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration
According to one of the famous quotes of Martin Luther King Jr., “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.” My mind and brain clashed severally on the exposure of the exploitation and criminality going on inside the Nigerian Embassy in Vienna, Austria. But like Prof. Wole Soyinka said, “The man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny.” My impetus and courage are driven from the fact that my convictions are bigger than my fear – because Nigeria will be great if we all do our part.
Consequently as a true patriot, I am compelled to add my voice in solidarity to the cries of Nigerians in Austria who dearly crave for the urgent attention of the Nigerian government to end the disgrace, manipulation, intimidation, fraud, and the neglect they have been subjected to for a long time unchallenged at the Nigerian Embassy in Vienna, Austria. According to the complaints, the conduit pipe of the evil this time is mainly orchestrated via visa and passport applications – code named “Administration fee”.
When one applies for a Nigerian visa online, one goes through all the processes, pays the money as the website of the Nigeria Immigration Service stipulates, and the person is instructed to take specific required documents and proceed to the Nigerian Embassy for the visa. But when one gets to the embassy and submits the documents, surprisingly one is not given the visa as directed, rather a fraudulent transfer slip of €50 – claimed by the embassy to be an administrative fee – is given to that applicant to go to any nearby bank and pay into an account allegedly and boldly written to belong to the Nigerian Embassy in Vienna. If one does not pay this money the person will not be given the visa. It is equally the same thing with the international passport. After the payment online, one must pay extra €30 at the embassy if the person is living in Austria, otherwise it is €100, or else the person will not be attended to.
One of the bank accounts these monies were paid into was opened on 09.08.2021 at Bank Austria, with the account number AT64 1200 0515 7402 311. Wherever the monies were paid before then would be worth investigating. The account was later closed sometime in March 2022, and was simultaneously replaced with installed POS inside the embassy. Currently, the POS is what people are using to pay the imposed extra €50 and €30/€100 administration fees by the embassy for visa and passport applications. Closing and reopening accounts several times in the same bank in a developed country like Austria that has a working society is an indication that something is wrong.
Following are other fees that equally go into the same account (attached is a screenshot info of the “Administrative Charges” from the embassy’s website before it was removed): (1) “Temporal Work Permit cable Visa endorsement fee €100,” (2) “STR Visa endorsement fee (per document) €200”, (3) “Urgent collection subject to approval by Minister (C&I) €50”, (4) “Lost Passports €200”, (5) “Change of names due to marriage €50”, (6) “Applicants from other passport issuing countries (in addition to other regular charges) €100”, (7) “Processing of applications for renunciation of citizenship €300”, (8) “Endorsement of Business Documents €200”, and (9), “Attestation of documents €40.” Reliable information from an impeccable source is that these proceeds – between €30,000 to €44,000 – are not honestly remitted to the Federal Government.
Besides the POS payment there is also the possibility to pay other so-acclaimed administrative fees by the embassy at the bank. Attached is a bank transfer slip given to a person by the embassy for two persons’ visas to be paid into the purported embassy’s account with the number AT12 1200 0100 2182 8982 at Bank Austria.
The ambiguity and the questions here are: Is the Nigerian Immigration officially aware of this very €50 (equivalent to N38,000) and €30 (around N23,400) extra visa and passport charges? If yes: do the monies paid go into the account of the Federal Republic of Nigeria or to some pockets of a few privileged individuals? If indeed it is truly true that the money actually goes into the Nigerian Government’s account: why is it not possible that one can also pay this extra monies online at the same time one is equally paying for the visa or passport fee? Why are the charges not stated like other fees at the website of the Nigeria Immigration Service as one applies? Why was it difficult and considered not important to inform people that they would be required to pay extra €50 and €30/€100 for administrative fees at the embassy like they were informed on what they need to bring to the embassy – if the monies were appropriate and not corruptly inserted in the process? Is the Federal Government of Nigeria aware of the monies that are currently going through the installed POS at the embassy?
For how long shall many of our leaders continue to treat us like animals – torment, oppress, disgrace and humiliate us everywhere, every time and at every little loophole they see, both home and abroad? Evil does not know ones religion or tribe. We all suffer it. So, when can we as Nigerians forget our differences and come together against oppression, corruption, repression and injustice etc. and say in unison that enough is enough without sentiments?
Furthermore fellow Nigerians, it is essential to also let you know that so many Nigerians who went home for the 2022 Christmas holiday were heartbroken, because they were exploited, frustrated and subjected to abuse by the embassy officials due to their inefficiencies. How? Many who had applied and had paid for visas to travel to Nigeria either lost the money they had paid for air tickets or had to pay extra for rebooking because the embassy failed to give them visas on time, with flimsy excuses of lack of “visa sticker.” Must we always be maltreated and exploited like this?
The sad one currently again is that, no Nigerian is allowed to go into the Nigerian Embassy in Vienna, Austria with mobile phones. Why? At first, they started compelling visiting Nigerians to off their cellphones before being allowed into the embassy, and they have now graduated to the point of not allowing anyone to go in with a cellphone. Everyone must deposit his/her cellphone with the receptionist, or else the person is denied entry. What is all this? What is there – inside the embassy – to hide? Are we the only embassy in the world? Why are they afraid of their own shadows? The cellphones could at least help many who wait at the embassy for a long time to interact and keep them busy. But who cares how the people feel? That one cannot be reached or make calls while inside the embassy is heart breaking and very sad. But the reasons for this awkward and inconsiderate decision are obvious. Aptly, they want to avoid Nigerians taking photos or making videos of their embarrassing conduct and the waiting room of the embassy they have shamelessly turned to a restaurant of Jollof rice and a pepper soup joint, and a below standard of a dirty restroom that is an eyesore. Otherwise what else?
Nigeria is a country where ugly and despicable things could be made to look normal especially if highly placed people are involved. My heart bleeds. Consequently, I protest on behalf of concerned Nigerians in Diaspora and appeal to the Commander in-Chief of the armed forces, the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari to please come to the aid of Nigerians in Austria via the Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama whose bulk of these complaints directly fall on his desk and in conjunction with the Acting Controller General of the Nigeria Immigration, Isah Jere Idris – to please urgently and sincerely react efficiently to the moan of the aggrieved Nigerians for the benefits of all. We plead for official investigation into the unscrupulous and indecent activities and corruption going on at the Nigeria Embassy in Vienna, Austria, and demand immediate stop to them. It is incredible. Perhaps, the case is equally not different in other Nigerian Embassies around the globe and the investigation should be comprehensively extended. We are watching.
Unbelievable things are happening under this Nigeria Embassy in Vienna, Austria that are yet to be revealed, and when they are, they will shock the entire world.
God bless Nigeria.
Uzoma Ahamefule, a concerned patriotic citizen and a refined African traditionalist, writes from Vienna, Austria,
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