The Acting Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Isa Idris, says he apprehended some corrupt officers on Monday after disguising as a passport-seeking applicant.
According to Idris, he went undercover as an applicant for an international passport at the Lagos State Command in Ikoyi, after which he alleged that some officers offered to engage in shady deals with him.
The CG, speaking with Premium Times, 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.”
He said 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.
According to Idris, his unscheduled visit to Ikoyi on Monday 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.
“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.
The immigration boss said as of the time of making his undercover operation known to Premium Times, the officers were yet to know who he was, and that 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.
On the aim of his operation, he said the lesson will help the service to strengthen the passport issuance process, saying having an international passport of a country confers nationality on its holder and so it must have integrity.
“So with what I have experienced firsthand today, it simply means that anybody can come in from anywhere and obtain our passport. This is unacceptable. So I can assure you that the Immigration Service under our watch will strengthen the issuance process and the integrity of the document,” the Immigration boss said.
He added that officers caught in the act during his unscheduled visit have been documented and that they would be disciplined accordingly.
“The laws are there, and so they will be made to face the law. There are about three of them but we are very sure that it is an organised crime. They are not alone but further investigations would reveal that,” he said.