China has asked Nigeria to close down a visa application centre in Biejing for what it called “illegal activities”. It could not be confirmed if there was such development in Germany and the United States.
SUNDAY PUNCH gathered that China had written a protest letter to the Nigerian Embassy in Beijing to communicate its disapproval.
The private visa application centre had opened to business to receive requests for intending travellers from China to Nigeria.
But the host country said Nigeria did not follow due process in setting up the agency, thus making its activities illegal.
A source confirmed the development to our correspondent on Saturday.
He said, “The information is correct. But it is not the Nigerian consular office that was asked to close down, it was the ‘illegal’ visa application centre. The Nigerian authorities did not inform China of its intention to open a visa application centre through a private company before it started operation.
“There is a procedure which must be followed. It is good to avoid a diplomatic row and to continue with the good relationship between the two countries on one hand and the citizens on the other hand”, he added.
In the note verbale written to the Nigerian embassy, China requested Nigeria to follow due process in setting up the private company as an agency for visa processing.
Note verbale is a diplomatic language, memorandum or note not signed, sent when an affair has continued a long time without any reply, in order to avoid the appearance of an urgency, which, perhaps, the affair does not require; and, on the other hand, not to afford any ground for supposing that it is forgotten, or that there is no intention of not prosecuting it any further.
Another source in China said, “It is true that the Chinese authorities asked Nigerian authorities to follow due process. The host country in situation like this will not take laws into its hands by shutting down the centre itself. It will only request the concerned country to do the right thing by closing down the place until the right things are done.”
When contacted last night, the spokesperson of the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ogbole Ode, said he was not aware of the development.
“I am not aware. It is already midnight in China so there is no way to confirm now”, Ode said.
But the spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy, Mr. Ding Awhua, neither confirmed nor denied the report.
He said, as far as I know, the Nigerian Embassy or the cousular office in Beijing is open to business as usual. China and Nigeria enjoy cordial diplomatic relations, even if there is any issue between the two countries, there is a diplomatic channel of communication. Both China and Nigeria are law abiding countries and will not do anything contrary to the law.”