NIS Sustains Battle against Illegal Immigrants

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Chinedu Eze

The Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) has revealed that it has been engaging in series of battles with some Nigerians who try to facilitate the entry of some foreigners that did not meet visa conditions to be in the country.

A top official of the agency, in a chat with THISDAY, alleged that before the current administration there used to be illicit acts of Nigerians who enhanced the entry of foreigners, mostly those from Asian countries without appropriate entry requirements.

The official said such incidents have been addressed by the current leadership of the NIS, saying the agency now ensures that anyone coming into Nigeria must obtain Nigerian visa or must have met all the conditions to obtain visa on arrival.

He expressed surprise at what he described as unpatriotic act whereby a Nigerian would use his position to facilitate the entry of foreigners into the country and described it as a very serious crime.

The official noted that most people allowed to enter the country, under such fraudulent arrangement, may be criminals, running away from the country and willing to come and commit all kinds of crime in Nigeria.

THISDAY investigations revealed that some foreigners that had been arrested for engaging in illicit businesses in Nigeria arrived the country without visa, but this appears to have reduced in the last three years, because Immigration tightened movement at the major airports in the country.

An official of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) who confirmed the development said that these days when the foreigners without visa are intercepted at the airport, they are forced to leave the country immediately with the same aircraft that brought them into Nigeria.

The Immigration officials excoriated the Nigerians in high positions who use their status to push for foreigners to come to Nigeria without required documentation and visa, noting that such acts are extremely unpatriotic and deserved the highest punitive measures when such people are caught.

He said some of the foreigners who are helped to come into Nigeria may not have special training or acquire special skills but were allowed to come to the country and take up the jobs that would have been done by Nigerians.

The Immigration officials said Nigerians and other Africans were treated shabbily and contemptuously by some countries; that some of them after meeting their visa requirements are still turned back on arrival to the countries of their destinations.

He, therefore, wondered why Nigerians should allow foreigners to illicitly come into the country without meeting their visa requirements.

The Immigration officials said NIS does a lot of jobs beyond stamping in and out travellers and documentation, disclosing that the Service profiles everybody that travels and keeps track of them outside Nigeria.

“We are the only organisation that tracks information about Nigerians overseas, so we have details of everybody, including keeping records of crimes committed. Sometimes we share this information with other security agencies in Nigeria,” the official said.

On visa fee and charges, the Immigration official said the Service abides by the principle of reciprocity in carrying out immigration policies, guided by the Ministry of Interior.

He wondered why some Nigerians were kicking against the cost increase in visa services and remarked that Nigerian visitors are made to pay similar amount of money for biometrics and some embassies after charging Nigerians highly still refuse to give them visa, adding that some countries make so much money from their embassies in Nigeria.

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

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

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