Immigration Clears Air on Biometrics Charges

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Chinedu Eze
The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) said it has suspended the collection of $90 biometric Visa-On- Arrival policy it introduced about two weeks ago and could resume when it received instruction from the Ministry of Interior.

THISDAY learnt from a source at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, that the collection for the biometrics which was done through online payment had been ceded to a concessionaire by the Ministry of Interior.

THISDAY also learnt from inside source at the international terminal of the airport that the biometrics, which came on stream on June 12, was only implemented for two days but was later suspended following complaints from some of the travellers who claimed that there was no adequate publicity on the new policy.

A report had said last Monday that the command introduced the $90 biometrics visa on arrival and additional $20 as processing fee for foreigners who were entering the country despite the fact that they had already paid for visas from their respective countries.
The report also claimed that the introduction of the charges caused chaos at the terminal as some of the passengers delayed on arrival at the airport.

But a strong source close to the command confided in THISDAY that there was nothing like that because the issuing of biometrics was suspended on June 14, 2018, after it was implemented for two days.

The source said the biometrics service was given out in concession the same with Visa-On Arrival charges, which were given to Online Integrated Service (OIS) and New Works respectively.

THISDAY further learnt that the biometrics charges was supposed to be based on reciprocity, so immigration charges countries equivalent of what they charge Nigerian citizens.

Some the countries that have started charging Nigerians biometric fees charges include the United Kingdom, United States, South Africa, China among others.

“Our officers at the Lagos Airport don’t collect any charges from any traveler. The only thing our officers do at the airport is just to profile passports of travellers and ensure that those without concrete missions do not enter our country.

“It is true that we commenced the collection of biometric charges for travellers, but the policy was suspended within two days because of inadequate publicity. But, we are not reinventing the wheel because this thing is reciprocity. Some of these countries charge our citizens the same amount of money we intend to charge them,” he stated.

When contacted, the Comptroller of Immigration at the Lagos Airport, Mr. Dikko Yashe, declined to comment on the issue, but an informed source from the Service said: “Visa fee is based on reciprocity. The increase in fees was decided by the Minister of Interior. It is a policy issue from the federal government which no one should question. But as I said earlier, the implementation of these charges has not started.

“This is a statutory issue; it is not a flat rate charges and we no more accept cash payment. Everything is done with credit card. We respond to the countries’ charges, so those that charge us more, we charge them more. We don’t charge a country like Belize because they don’t charge us. So challenging the fees is like challenging the federal government.”