A group representing the interest of Nigerians in South Africa, Nigeria Union South Africa, has alleged extortion by the Nigerian Consulate in the country.

Thus was contained in an open letter written by the group's Head of Secretariat, Collins Thomas Mgbo, addressed to the Honourable Consulate General, Abdulmalik Mike Ahmed, the Consul General of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The group alleged that the Consulate had imposed on Nigerians a fee of R2, 000 (N52, 000) for passport processing and R120 (N3, 000) for passport capturing.

According to the group, the fee is very unreasonable, noting that the refusal of the Consulate to review the fees shows that the mission is only interested in how to extract money from Nigerians not minding their pain.

The group further demanded that the fee be stopped immediately while calling for a review of the time frame for passport renewal and replacement to a shorter period of one month.

The group said this will reduce the rate of corruption at the consulate.

The open letter read, “We regret to note that despite the series of outcry from the Nigeria community in South Africa and calls from the nooks and crannies of this country about the unreasonable fee of R2, 000 and R120 you imposed on Nigerian citizens for lost passport processing and passport capturing respectively, you remained adamant in inflicting excruciating pain on our compatriots whose passport were stolen, lost, damaged or misplaced.

“The nonchalant attitude over the cry of Nigerians, relative to the above submission is preposterous and mind-boggling, to say the least. It seems as though the mission is only interested in how to extract money from Nigerians not minding their pain with no plan whatsoever to improve service delivery at the consulate hence the minimum turnaround for passport renewal is now five months and lost passport is now nine months.

“There is no justification whatsoever to this premeditated hardship inflicted on the people. It is rather unfortunate that the purpose wherein diplomatic missions are established all over the world as enshrined in Nigeria Foreign Policy statement, which among others, is to cater for the interest of the Nigerian citizens in a host state is defeated.

The statement listed their demands as thus: "We demand that the unreasonable R2, 000 penalties for lost passport and extra R120 for passport capturing (after payment of legitimate 160 dollars and extra charges of R50 imposed by Consulate and IS services) should be stopped with immediate effect.

“We demand that the time frame for passport renewal and replacement should not be more than one month. This is because the avoidable delay makes corruption inevitable as applicants would be desperate to get their travelling documents on time and apply or renew their immigration documentation.

“It is imperative to add that if these demands are not met, we shall be left with no option but to embark on necessary action both at the Consulate in Johannesburg and Nigeria to stop this calculated diplomatic extortion of Nigerians being perpetuated at the Consulate General of Nigeria 16 Rivonia Road, Illovo, Johannesburg.”

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