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Amid plight of Nigerians in Ukraine, Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website blackout enters 40 days

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THE website of Nigeria’s foreign affairs ministry has been inactive for over 40 days now, The ICIR findings have revealed.

This is happening when Nigerians in Ukraine are struggling to flee the country to escape  President Vladimir Putin’s onslaught.

The website with the webpage URL: https://www.foreignaffairs.gov.ng/  is currently not available for people to access.

Afolabi Jeremiah, a Nigerian whose cousin is currently trapped in Ukraine amid the Russian invasion, said he was trying to access the website to check the total number of Nigerians in Diaspora when he noticed the website was not going through.


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“It is so pathetic that the website of a key ministry like that of foreign affairs would be inaccessible, not even at this critical time,” he said in a WhatsApp chat on Tuesday.

All efforts made by The ICIR to access the website on several devices were futile, as the website was not going through.

On the Google Chrome browser, the website came with a privacy error response, while on Opera mini browser, a message popped up that the website was currently under maintenance.

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“We are under maintenance. The page is undergoing maintenance and will be back soon. Contact us,” the message on the website read.

Screenshot of the foreign affairs website when accessed on Google chrome
Screenshot of the foreign affairs website when accessed on Google chrome
Screenshot of the foreign affairs website when accessed on Operamini browser
Screenshot of the foreign affairs website when accessed on Operamini browser

The ICIR tried to send a mail to the email provided for contact on the website, which is John@example.com, but the message returned that the email address could not be found.

Website down for 40 days and still counting

The ICIR ran a background check on the website to determine the last time it was active. Findings revealed the website was last active on January 19, 2022.

The history of the website was checked through Wayback Machine, a platform that enables users to see archived versions of web pages across time.

The Wayback Machine revealed that the last time the website was active was on January 19, 2022.

Since January 19, the website has remained inactive.

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Despite the fact that the website is inactive, the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama still have the website link attached to their official verified Twitter handles.

 

Ministry spends over N900 million on IT-related services in five years

The ICIR checked through the approved budget from Office of the Accountant General of the Federation to ascertain how much the foreign affairs ministry had expended on Information Technology (IT)-related services over the past five years.

From the data, over the past five years, the ministry has spent over N900 million on different IT services, including IT consulting, Internet access services, maintenance of IT equipment and others.

The five years cover the money the ministry has spent on IT-related services 2018 and 2022.

In 2018, the ministry spent a total sum of N114.477 million on IT related services, N139.407 million in 2019, N95.383 million in 2020, N344.279 million in 2021 and the ministry is billed to spend N272.031 million on same services in 2022.

Infographics showing the total sum of money spent on IT-related services between 2018 and 2022 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Infographics showing the total sum of money spent on IT-related services between 2018 and 2022 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

A total sum of N5.376 million was spent on IT consultancy services in 2018; N5.376 million in 2019; N3.678 million in 2020; N210.248 million in 2021, and N105 million in 2022.

Infographics showing the total sum of money spent on IT consultancy in five years by the ministry of foreign affairs.
Infographics showing the total sum of money spent on IT consultancy in five years by the ministry of foreign affairs.

Meanwhile, despite all the spending, the ministry’s website, which is the first point of contact with the citizen, has remained inactive for over 40 days.

The ministry claimed that it was unaware of the website being inaccessible for 40 days.

The ministry’s spokesperson Francisca Omayuli, in a telephone conversation with The ICIR on Tuesday, said she wasn’t aware that the website was not accessible.

“Thank you for your observation, we will take it up with the relevant division,” said  Omayuli.

Author profile

'Niyi works with The ICIR as an investigative reporter and fact-checker. You can shoot him an email via noyedeji@icirnigeria.org. You can as well follow him on Twitter via @niyi_oyedeji.

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