The Acting Ambassador/Charge d’Affaires, Hakeem Balogun, said that a “protest note” had been transmitted to the U.S. Department of State.
Balogun condemned the violation of the diplomatic protocol over altercation by two Embassy drivers adding: “The embassy has as well transmitted a protest note to the U.S. Department of State.
“We have sent a protest note in respect of the entrance by the police into the embassy. It is against diplomatic protocols.
“They are not supposed to enter the embassy. The protest letter is in respect of the entrance of the police into the embassy,” Balogun said.
The Nigerian envoy also said that he “has since taken appropriate and timely, administrative and diplomatic steps to address the incident.
“These measures include the immediate and indefinite suspension of the two local staff members involved in the fracas.
“There is the establishment of a Committee to investigate and recommend appropriate disciplinary actions against the two locally-recruited staff members involved in the fracas.”
Balogun dismissed the publication by a Nigerian newspaper alleging that “the United States Police was called in to restore order in the Embassy as a result of ‘a physical fight’.
The ambassador also described as baseless, claims that the fracas took place “in the full glare of dozens of guests and visa applicants”.
“To buttress its report, the Newspaper attached a photograph claiming to be the ‘chaotic situation’ that erupted as a result of the fight,” he said.
According to him, however, the dispute between two of its drivers took place in the basement area of the Chancery where Embassy drivers are stationed.
“The physical encounter was, therefore, not in the full glare of the public as to have caused a chaotic situation.
“A cursory look and careful analysis of the picture attached by the Newspaper will reveal to anyone conversant with the Embassy’s premises that the picture used has no physical connection to the Embassy.
“This was clearly an effort at deception,” the ambassador said.
On the issue of the nationalities of the Embassy’s local staff members, he said the primary qualification for employment into the non-diplomatic workforce is knowledge of the job, not the nationality of the applicant.
“The Newspaper went further to question the composition of the nationalities of the Embassy’s locally recruited staff”.
“This is an international best practice. Be that as it may, it is important to inform that out of the Mission’s current local staff strength of 44, there are 37 Nigerians.
“Seven are non-Nigerians from India, The Philippines, Singapore and Sri Lanka,” he said.
Balogun assured that the Mission would continue to do everything within its mandate to protect and defend the interests of Nigeria and Nigerians in the U.S.