The hours are counting down to the “Best in the World” a Microsoft Word and Excel world title championship holding in Toronto, Canada, beginning on July 30, 2009, and organised by Certiport.
But Nigeria’s representatives, 16-year-old Adeolu Adeyemi and Oluwaseun Oyewole, students of Thomas Adewumi International College, Kwara State, can only stare at their visa denials from the Canadian High Commission in Nigeria.
When contacted on Monday, Nigeria’s foreign affairs ministry spokesperson, Ayo Olukanmi, said he was unaware that the country’s representatives had been denied visa by the host country. But he quickly added, “what’s the guarantee they’ll come back?” He asked. “It has happened before that people go and don’t come back.
There are so many cases like that, with too many people having fake passports and documents.” Mr. Olukanmi went on to say that only the ministry’s consular service director, Steve Egurube, in Abuja, could deal with the matter.
House of Representatives committee chairman on foreign affairs, Umaru Bature, also said he needed more facts on the issue. “I am just hearing this from you for the first time,” he said. “I will need more information on this matter before I can comment or do anything.”
On Tuesday morning, scanned copies of 14 documents the children submitted to the Canadian High Commission were forwarded to Mr. Olukanmi and Mr. Bature’s email boxes. The documents included Certiport’s letter of invitation dated June 25, 2009, the Canadian visa officer’s application refusal dated July 15, 2009, the Canadian High Commission’s undated Deficiency Sheet refusing and closing their second visa application, and the Lufthansa return tickets worth over $7,000 (their flight was confirmed for July 27, 2009). Neither of the officials have responded yet.
Certiport’s invitation letter, signed by the company’s president and CEO, Ray Kelly, stated that the two Nigerian teenagers were to compete against “about 40 participants from 50 countries”.
The letter further read: “All travel arrangements, including round trip airfare, have been purchased by and are under the control of Certiport and its partners.
Over the years, we have hosted hundreds of guests and participants… We are pleased to be able to say that… all of those participants have been faithful in complying with the terms of their visas and have returned to their home countries in a timely manner after their brief stays abroad.” In a response email to NEXT, the Canadian High Commission immigration section declined to comment on why the visas had been denied. “We are sorry,” the email read, “we do not deal with third parties under the Privacy Act.”
According to the high commission’s visa officer, the refusal of the visa applications submitted by the students on July 6, 2009 was based on the children’s nationality “which, balanced against factors” might motivate them to stay in Canada.
“You have not satisfied me that you meet the requirements… that you would leave Canada at the end of the temporary period if you were authorised to stay,” the visa officer wrote on the application on July 15, 2009.