Nigeria Ambassador to the Netherlands, Oji Ngofa, on Sunday, urged the Dutch Embassy to resume issuance of Schengen Visas in Abuja to consolidate the increasing trade relations between Nigeria and Netherlands.
Ngofa made the call while briefing journalists in The Hague, ahead of President Buhari’s arrival to the Netherlands, on Sunday.
The envoy, who spoke on the visa policy of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Nigeria, said the issue had been on the front burner with the host authorities since his assumption of office in that country.
In 2013, the Netherlands Embassy in Nigeria had swapped their visa application processes in Nigeria with the French Consulate-General in Lagos and the Embassy of Belgium in Abuja.
He said: “This has been one recurring theme in my interactions with the Dutch authorities since my arrival as Ambassador late last year.
“I also had to get my visa to this country from the Belgian embassy in Abuja, and upon my arrival, I have kept this issue on the front burner with host authorities.
“We have made series of representations and the Dutch have promised to expedite action to see that their Embassy resumes issuance of Schengen visas in Abuja.
“We believe that with the increasing trade relations between our countries, priority must be given by the Dutch to visa applicants in Nigeria, as this would facilitate business and people-to-people contact.”
On other consular issues, the Ambassador praised Nigerian community in the Netherlands for being generally law-abiding and contributing positively to various aspects of Dutch society.
He said: “There are, however, a few Nigerians who are detained mainly for immigration and sundry offences.
“The Embassy always provides consular assistance to them, upon their request, and also liaises with the host authorities to ensure that the basic human rights of the detainees are respected.
“From our records, there are less than 30 Nigerians detained in the Netherlands.”
On President Buhari’s invitation to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Rome Statute of the Court, the envoy said the invitation was an indication that Nigeria’s support to the court “is recognised and appreciated”.
According to him, Nigeria has always been a strong pillar of support to the ICC, especially in Africa, since the adoption of the Rome Statute establishing the Court on July 17, 1998.
He said: ‘‘As the only Head of State invited to this milestone event by the Court, that is indicative of the high regard in which Nigeria is held.
‘‘Nigeria has always been a strong pillar of support to the ICC especially in Africa, in the last 20 years, and this visit shows that this support is recognised and appreciated.
‘‘Whilst there have been some criticism of the Court, President Buhari believes that its work is vital to preventing impunity worldwide, and ensuring accountability for perpetrators of the most serious crimes.
‘‘I am certain that this visit will reassure the ICC that Nigeria remains a strong advocate of the ideals of the Rome Statute.’’
According to the envoy, the President’s visit will be an opportunity to show Nigeria’s appreciation for the honour done to the country by electing a Nigerian as President of the Court.
He said: ‘‘The President of the Court, Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji, is a distinguished Nigerian jurist.
‘‘His election as President by his peers in March 2018 indicates that his cerebral and leadership traits have not gone unnoticed.’’
While in Netherlands, President Buhari will use the global platform to reaffirm Nigeria’s support to the fundamental values of the Rome Statute and to the ideals of the ICC.
Buhari, who is the current anti-corruption champion for the African Union, would also highlight his administration’s campaign against corruption in Nigeria at the event.