Immigration: 80 officers on trial, eight dismissed over passport issuance extortion



The Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) says about 80 officers have gone on trial over the collection of illegal fees for the issuance and renewal of passports.


Speaking with NAN on Sunday, Tony Akuneme, NIS spokesperson, said eight officers have been dismissed in connection to the offence in the last year.


He said the disciplinary measures are part of the three-point reform agenda of Isah Jere, NIS comptroller general (CG).


Akuneme said the CG’s three-point agenda includes passport issuance reform, tightening border security and improving the welfare of NIS officers.


The NIS spokesman said the CG has vowed to discipline officers who try to sabotage the reform process.


“We have continued to punish NIS officers and men who try to assist people for a fee. You can assist people genuinely but not extorting from them,” he said.


“We are committed to curbing corruption and other illicit acts in the service. You will appreciate the fact that if nothing else, the level of awareness has increased in the last few months.


 “Don’t patronise agents, fill your forms yourself. We have officers watching and these agents know they are being watched. When they take money from you, tell us. If we don’t take action, tell the world.”


He said employing the services of third-party agents in securing passports hinders the reform process.


“We have tried as much as possible to eliminate third parties so that if you really want, you can process the application of your passport from the comfort of your room on your laptop, android phones and you can pay online,” Akuneme said.


“You don’t really need anybody whether immigration officers or agents which we usually call louts. They have upgraded and become agents. They are still third parties.


 “The problem we have is the use of third parties because no matter how much reform you put in, you will always see a learned and civilised person using a third party to process his or her application.


“And one thing they don’t understand is that third parties don’t have an idea of the information entered into your application. This can result in somebody having issues with his/her National Identification Number (NIN).”

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