(UDHAYAM, COLOMBO) – The Nigerian federal Government has decided to close its embassy in Sri Lanka, Per Second News reported.
The Federal Government recently announced its intention to shutdown five foreign missions and embassies, according to Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama.
Mr. Onyeama, did not name the affected embassies or missions, but Per Second News exclusively gathered that the embassy in Sri Lanka is one of the foreign mission penciled for closure.
Per Second News learnt that the high commission based in Colombo is the only Nigerian representation in Sri Lanka.
Top administration officials told Per Second News that the decision to close the diplomatic mission came after a continuous review of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs organizations abroad and assessment of its status in relation to changes in the surrounding world and changing requirements for monitoring and service.
“The Ministry for Foreign Affairs must also adapt its organization abroad to its budget and meet the demands for streamlining that apply to all ministries and government agencies,” the official said.
He said the decision to close an embassy is often a cost-cutting measure but the diplomatic relation with the host government remains strong.
“Most of the embassies that are being closed is because of cost-cutting,” he said.
Sri Lanka government two years ago reported in one of the leading newspaper that the government were on a clampdown on Nigerians. The government acquired a new machine to check the validity of passport and visa and used a Nigerian passport seized by the immigration for advert without informing the original owner who was at the time, in the deportation camp, nor was any Nigerian representative consulted.
The then Chairman of the Nigeria House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora Affairs, Abike Dabiri-Erewa decried the rising spate of stigmatisation of Nigerians in Sri Lanka.
“Our citizens are mainly harassed and unfairly treated for the fact that they are Nigerians, and in some case sent back from the airport. This act is very predatory and must be checked immediately, she said at that time.
She cited the example of Mr. Adeseye Adeyemi, a Nigerian who decided to wed his Sri Lankan heartthrob in Sri Lanka, with his family in attendance.
She added that Adeyemi’s tale of joy was unduly turned “to sadness by the terrible treatment received from the Sri Lankan authorities.”
She said all family members “were quarantined in the airport lobby for about 18 hours with no access to food or water, not even toilet facilities were granted causing the children present to answer the call of nature in that state and the family ultimately deported (with no single medical check) after the prolonged wait.
“This unfair treatment is for no other reason than the fact that these individuals are proud holders of the Nigerian passport. This sort of behavior is highly discriminatory and is a clear violation of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” she said.
Trade bilateral between both countries is not robust but two years ago, high-ranking members of Nigeria’s military met with a Sri Lankan delegation to discuss counter-insurgency tactics. The chief of Nigeria’s defense staff, at the time Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, said Nigeria, is studying the military tactics used by Sri Lanka to crush the rebel Tamil Tigers for its own battle against Islamist group Boko Haram.