Nigerian government protested against delay in issuance of Canadian visa & poor treatment of Nigerians at Canadian Embassy

The Federal Government yesterday protested alleged poor treatment of Nigerians applying for visa at Canada’s High Commission in Nigeria.

Foreign Affairs Minister, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru, summoned the Canadian High Commissioner, Chris Cooter, to express displeasure at the treatment.

Ashiru noted that the visa applications processing at the High Commission is now characterised by excessive delays.

He declared that the waiting period of a minimum of 45 working days for Nigerian visa applicants to receive response from the Canadian authorities was unacceptable.

A statement issued by the ministry on the matter reads: “The Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru, OFR, yesterday, Thursday August 30th 2012, summoned the Canadian High Commissioner to Nigeria, H.E. Chris Cooter, to his office to register the Federal Government’s protest on how Nigerian visa applicants are being treated at the Canadian High Commission.

“He recalled the very warm relations between the two countries, citing the example of the presence of a major Canadian company, Manitoba Hydro in Nigeria’s power sector. He further recalled that the Bi-National Commission between the two countries has been inked, paving the way for the deepening of our relations, especially in the economic sector.”

“It is against this background that the Honourable Minister expressed to the Canadian High Commissioner his disappointment at the manner the Canadian Mission in Nigeria was maltreating Nigerian visa applicants, characterised by excessive delays in processing visa applications.

“The Honourable Minister declared as unacceptable the waiting period of a minimum of 45 working days for Nigerian visa applicants to receive a response from the Canadian authorities.

“The Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs concluded by suggesting to Ambassador Chris Cooter that rather than his Mission holding on to Nigeria visa applicant’s passports, the Mission should make do with photocopies of the data pages and to sight the passports. Thereafter, the passports can be surrendered to the Mission only at the point of issuance of visas. This will allow passport holders the opportunity to use their passports for other travels, pending the approval of their visa Applications by the Canadian Mission.”

Mr. Cooter reportedly pledged to report the concerns expressed by the Minister to the appropriate authorities in Ottawa, Canada.

The Minister at the meeting commended the decision by the US to give Nigeria top priority status in its visa processing administration.

By: Augustine Ehikioya/The Nation