Again Immigration In Bribery Scandal

Again Immigration In Bribery Scandal
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It appears the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, has become synonymous with bribery as Nigerians in their numbers have continued to complain of extortion by NIS officers in the course of passport application. DAUDA ISMAIL takes a look at these complaints which have persisted despite the sack of erring officers.

It is no longer news that officers of the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, have continued to extort Nigerians who either want to obtain or renew their international passports. But a recent video which surfaced online has got Nigerians talking again, expressing concern of the continued extortion of fellow Nigerians.

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In the viral video, a lady lamented how the NIS attempted to extort her when she visited her home country, Nigeria. The visibly angry lady decried how she was made to almost miss her flight back to Switzerland even though the Nigerian ambassador in that country had issued her a valid visa.

She said: “Hello everybody, this is Kibatus from Switzerland. I just returned from Nigeria not quite long ago and I stayed five weeks in Nigeria and got the visa that was issued from the ambassador here in the Nigeria Embassy in Switzerland. The ambassador issued me a visa for two months and I stayed only five weeks so I was very shocked and disappointed when I wanted to leave Nigeria and the Immigration Officers at the airport in Lagos said I have overstayed that they can’t let me go.

“They first said that I should have gone after one month, I now showed them the two months visa. They said they didn’t care that after one month, I should have left. Actually what we are going to do now is for me to pay eight thousand dollars and which is equal to about 3 million naira. I told him. Oga, I don’t have anything with me and this is a mistake  as I couldn’t have overstayed since I got a visa of two months and I stayed only five weeks . So I shouted and complained and another man then took me away also from the Nigeria Immigration. He took me aside and told me that what we are going to do now is that I will pay 80 thousand naira. I started shouting again because how can you tell me first that it is three million naira after five minutes it now went down to 80 thousand naira?

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“All this is fraud and I will not accept because what I have is a two month visa said he doesn’t  care if the ambassador issued me anything or not that its one month, that he will take me to the office to meet his boss, so I agreed for him to take me to who was in charge, but he said I was making him angry and I retorted that he was also getting me angry, because normally I always respect Nigerian I don’t care if u are an officer or you are living on the street. After standing there for like 20 minutes without attending to me, I told him I had the number of the ambassador and was going to call him right away, which was when he started saying no; lets… and he still delayed me for another five minutes.

“I then said Oga, stop this nonsense and he said that I have to pay that I should come and check the screen and really when he scanned my passport its showed over stayed but all this their scam even my Nigerian friends here in Switzerland, a lady told me that all this things are scam and fraud and that’s how they want to get money from whites.

“I got really angry. In the end, they just gave me the stamp just like that after enough shouting up and down they let me go. But now when I got home they put the stamp on the wrong page instead of the visa of this year they put it on my last year visa so now I will still have problems when going to Nigeria again. All these scams and frauds are too much; I don’t like it honestly. This makes me dislike coming to Nigeria. I am really angry. When I finally boarded the plane with my daughter, they said boarding completed and closed the door, meaning if they had delayed me for another five minutes more, I would have missed my flight.

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“This is a serious issue. I mean I paid almost two thousand dollars for ticket for my  daughter and myself now and you guys want me to miss my flight all in the name of money”

It would be recalled that in October 2021, the Acting Comptroller General of the NIS, Isa Idris, disguised as an applicant for an international passport at the service’s Lagos State Command, Ikoyi, after which he alleged that some officers of the service offered to engage in shady deals with him. He said he decided to walk in unannounced in order to gain firsthand experience of what Nigerians are going through “in the hands of unscrupulous officers of NIS”.

When he assumed office in September, he had pledged to tackle three things including addressing the challenges faced by Nigerians in their efforts to procure international passports, enhance border security and improve workers’ welfare. He said his unscheduled visit to Ikoyi was to confirm the allegations against officers of the immigration offices in Lagos State including Ikoyi, Ikeja and FESTAC town.

He said when he approached the officers at the Ikoyi command; he was given various high prices for the different categories of passports. “When I approached the officers, they offered me the menu without recognising me. They said 32 pages of the international passport for five years would cost me N45,000 instead of N27,000. They said 64 pages for five year would cost me N55,000 instead of N37,000, and N95,000 for 64 pages for 10 years instead of N72,000.

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“I was asked where I was from and I said Niger State. They also asked me if I had a letter of indigeneship and other documents and I said I didn’t have anyone. So they said they would collect N3, 500 to provide all the documents for me”, he said.

He said the Comptroller for Lagos Command of the service, Bauchi Aliyu, was surprised when he eventually showed up in his office. “You know he just returned to Lagos from Abuja. He didn’t know that I was coming to town. So he is still shocked as I am talking to you”, he said.

All this was after about 60 of its officials were sacked in October 2020 for collecting bribes in their line of duty. The Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service at that time, Muhammad Babandede had told the BBC Hausa Service, noting that they were sacked following complaints “with evidence” before the Immigration Service and subsequently through the Ministry of Interior.

But despite these celebrated disciplinary actions taken against corrupt officers, others still in service have continued to extort Nigerians unabated, making Nigerians wary of the service as it has continued to paint the country black abroad.

Aljazirahnews


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Bribery Scandalimmigration