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Nigerian embassy official accused over illegal fees

Last update - Monday, August 15, 2011, 19:39 By Metro Éireann

A consular clerk at the Nigerian Embassy who is implicated in the demanding of illegal fees for Nigerian passports has firmly denied the allegations.

The clerk, whose name is being withheld, told Metro Éireann on 29 July that he has “neither asked for nor received any payment for [a] passport or passports from any Nigerian”.
He said the allegation against him was completely false and had been made in order to persuade the embassy to sack him. Similar accusations have been made online (see
The clerk, an Igbo from Nigeria’s south-east, also said that the accusation was racially motivated, and blamed Yorubas for instigating it.
However, Metro Éireann has seen evidence that a Drogheda-based associate of the clerk (whose name is also being withheld) demanded €250 from a woman who was desperate to get passports for herself and two children four days before their trip to Nigeria.
Metro Éireann learned that this man asked the woman, who lives in Maynooth, to pick him up by car from his Drogheda home before proceeding to the Nigerian Embassy at Leeson Park in south Dublin, collecting the clerk from his home in Balbriggan along the way.
Later that same day, despite her passport application being unsuccessful, Metro Éireann learned she drove the Drogheda man to his preferred destination before returning to Maynooth.
Initially the consular clerk denied knowing the Drogheda man. But when pressed further, he accepted he knew him but only within the last three months.
The clerk added that even though the woman had informed him of the demand, he was not part of the arrangement and that the other man was not representing him.
He also claimed the woman concerned was the other man’s girlfriend and that they had some private financial dealings.
When challenged by Metro Éireann that this did not reflect the evidence, the clerk changed his story, saying that the other man told him he demanded money as a fee for accompanying the woman to the embassy.
Shortly after, the Drogheda man contacted Metro Éireann upon the clerk’s prompting. When probed about the woman and the passport fee, he initially replied “What woman?” before saying he would not talk any further, and hung up.
When the consular clerk was contacted once more and informed that the other man refused to explain his actions, he made threats against this reporter that have since been reported to gardaí.
Later, one of the Drogheda man’s friends known to Metro Éireann used that man’s phone to call back and request that the matter be left alone.
Prior to this newspaper’s conversations with the consular clerk and his associate, the Nigerian Embassy was contacted regarding the alleged demand for illegal fees by one of its staff. A spokesperson for the embassy’s interim charge d’affaires Georges Omokhagbor O Alabi requested Metro Éireann to bring evidence to the embassy “for a meeting next week”.
However, several Nigerians who spoke to Metro Éireann have criticised Alabi for his inability to investigate previous allegations of demands for illegal fees.
“It is quite unusual that a journalist would be asked to bring his evidence before a bribery allegation levelled against an embassy official is looked into,” said one Nigerian man who wished to remain anonymous, but who said he had previously spoken to Alabi.

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