The Consulate-General of Nigeria in New York has lamented the increasing number of fake divorce documents received from its nationals for certification in 2021.
A report on the activities of the Consulate for 2021 obtained by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in New York, said that the documents, purportedly issued by various courts in Nigeria, were presented to the Consulate-General for certification.
“This development is worrisome as such documents, including Decree NISI and Absolute, ostensibly to dissolve marriages contracted in Nigeria, would have been first submitted to host authorities, and only presented to the Consulate for certification after being rejected by host authorities.
“To curtail these unwholesome practices, the Consulate insisted on the documents being first certified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja, being re-certified for presentation to U.S. authorities.
“The Consulate recommends strengthening of vetting and certification process of documents presented for authentication at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja, intended for use abroad.
“This is to ensure the genuineness of these documents and avoid embarrassment to the Consulate and Nigeria. It is pertinent to state that the Consulate has limitations in independently verifying documents emanating from Nigerian agencies at home.’’
According to the report, the Consulate rendered necessary assistance within its mandate, particularly through certification of documents to nationals to regularise their stay in the U.S. in 2021.
“There has been increasing number of Nigerians visiting the Consulate-General to seek assistance to facilitate regularisation of their stay, following the promise by President Joe Biden, to grant law-abiding foreigners their stay.’’
In addition, it said that the Consulate-General had succeeded in checking the forgery of authorisation letter from the Federal Ministry of Health for a waiver to bring human remains back to Nigeria for burial.
Prior to 2021, the Funeral Homes had their accomplices in Lagos, who forged the Ministry of Health letter, the Consulate succeeded in getting the Ministry of Health to send samples of its signatories, which was used to evaluate applications for waivers.
It said that the Mission received and processed requests for assistance from Nigerians in Prisons, as well as those stranded in the U.S. for various reasons.
However, it said that the Consulate-General was limited in this regard by budget constraints.
Also, it said that it rendered assistance to detained Nigerians arrested by host enforcement agencies, particularly the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (NIS), Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and local police authorities.
“Following the receipt of such information, the department of Consular and Welfare at the Consulate would contact the detainee, through the law enforcement officer handling the specific case.
“The department will contact law enforcement officer handling the case to determine or confirm the Nigerian nationality/identity of the detainee, the nature of the offence, the condition under which the Nigerian was being held.
“This information will help us to confirm the nature of assistance the detainee required from the Mission.
“Depending on the nature of the offence, some of the detainees were released on bail, while others were kept in detention awaiting court appearances,’’ it said.
During the year under review, the Consulate was involved in special events, which included the Remembrance Ceremony for victims of COVID-19 in the U.S.
“The event which took place on June 19, 2021 and was attended by many notable Nigerians, including Ms Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of UN.
“Similarly, the Mission organised three Town Hall meetings with Nigerians in April, July and October. Dr Uzoma Emenike, Ambassador of Nigeria to the U.S. was a special guest at the October edition of the event,’’ it said.