From Tony Osauzo, Benin
Nigerians in Italy have condemned attempts by some of its members to disparage officials of the Nigeria Embassy who are working hard to ensure the seamless procurement of international travelling passports for Nigerians.
In particular, they condemned a viral post accusing embassy officials of ‘fraud’, describing the accusation as unpatriotic and sabotage aimed at disparaging officials of the embassy.
The viral post by one Sunday Ogieva on Facebook had accused embassy officials of compelling citizens in Italy to pay the sum of 150 Euros in the name of ‘Urgent Scanning’ as fraudulent.
The Nigerian Embassy had through a letter titled “Resumption of Urgent Scanning”, and signed by the Minister (Consular & Immigration), SO Bello, dated May 28, announced that the embassy is ‘set to commence urgent scanning/fast-tracking for passports with effect from May 31, 2021.
‘The resumption of this service will attract the sum of 150 Euro (administrative charges inclusive). The service will target those that actually need a passport for urgent and important usage. It is not automatic even when the applicant is willing to pay,’ the letter explained.
But reacting to the allegation of fraud against officials of the Nigerian Embassy, the Welfare Officer, National Union of Nigerians in Italy (NUNAI), Pastor Mike Oputteh, refuted and described the claims as baseless and outright mischief against the efforts of the embassy staff and the Controller General of Immigration in ensuring that passport booklets are obtained with ease.
He explained that the fee had been in place before the new ambassador was deployed to Italy.
Oputteh called on Nigerians in Italy to approach the embassy for proper clarification and understanding on the policies and programme of the mission before making unsubstantiated and uninformed allegations on social media.
He further appealed to the Controller General of Immigration to consider sending a passport intervention team to Italy in addition to increasing the manpower of immigration staff.