Udora Orizu in Abuja
House of Representatives has directed its Committee on Interior to investigate the alleged passport racketeering and other corrupt practices at the offices of the Nigeria Immigration Service with a view to bringing the culprits to book.
The House also urged the federal government to ensure that all payments made for the purpose of passport should be done through the Treasury Single Account (TSA) channel and anyone that violates the terms of the policy should be made to face the full wrath of the law.
This move was sequel to the unanimous adoption of a motion by Hon. Chinedu Ogah, titled: “Need to Investigate the Alleged Extortion, Passport Racketeering and Corrupt Practices by the Nigeria Immigration Service.”
Ogah while presenting his motion, noted that there have been several reports of alleged extortion of Nigerians seeking to acquire passports by personnel of the Nigeria Immigration Service.
He added that the rising trend of passport racketeering would expose the country to foreign criminals who may take advantage of the corrupt practices to acquire Nigerian passports and commit crimes that could tarnish the country’s image.
He said the unsuspecting members of the public are being made to pay as high as N50,000 to immigration officers with a promise to fast track processing of their passport.
The lawmaker frowned at the collection of cash by immigration personnel, instead of payment through Remita, which is the official TSA payment channel. He described this as a gross violation of the policy of the federal government.
“In spite of the inestimable success of the policy, officers of a revenue-generating agency such as the Nigeria Immigration Service are plagued by the sinister desire to subvert the policy with the ultimate goal of fattening their pockets, thus impeding the drive for a better Nigeria.
“The policy of TSA, developed by the International Monetary Fund, was fully implemented by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 to promote accountability and transparency in public administration, hence Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and Government Owned Enterprises (GOEs) were directed to transfer all financial assets from commercial banks to a consolidated revenue fund domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“The result of the unscrupulous activities of officers of the Nigeria Immigration Service at the various passport offices nationwide, well-meaning Nigerians are being denied legitimate access to the services of the agency and the country is being bled of millions of revenue through corrupt personnel,” he alleged.
He added that corruption in any form should be discouraged by ensuring that errant officers and their cronies are made to face the full wrath of the law.
Supporting the motion,
Hon. Toby Okechukwu condemned these sharp practices, describing them as shameful acts.
He tasked the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, to call the officers of the Nigeria Immigration Service to order.