• Friday, June 14, 2024
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Will Adepoju Carol Wura-Ola make NIS deliver and stop racketeering?

Will Adepoju Carol Wura-Ola make NIS deliver and stop racketeering?

Barely Nine months after publishing my investigation about the web of racketeering of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), there have been numerous administrative changes yet I am still sitting on the fence, thinking if the new administration is not an old wine in the new wine skin.

Currently, the baton of NIS leadership has been changed with Adepoju Carol Wura-Ola replacing its former Comptroller General Isah Jere, as Acting. Though, it may be too early, I have not seen the hand work of Wura-Ola and her move to change the sour status quo of the NIS.

Unlike the new Acting IGP who at least described himself as “a lion” even though we’ve not really seen the roaring sound of his ferocity. What we still see is the continuation of police harassment and bullying of innocent Nigerians. Or the EFCC acting boss who ever since his appointment has had the commission arresting different individuals caught up within the jurisdiction of the need to be docked.

Unlike him, again, the acting NIS Comptroller General has not done anything visible than a visit to Innoson Car Company and some others we don’t even know the essence of. With this, I am bothered if she would ever be able to fish out the bad eggs buzzing around the service and souring the garment of it through various means of racketeering and corruption.

In November 2022, PIJAlance and the Ogbomoso Insight published my investigation into the NIS officers racket, focusing on its branches within Oyo and Osun States. It was barely seven months before the expiration of the tenure of Isah Jere.

The investigation was directly in line with the publicly displayed stand of the NIS and was completely against the core modus operandi the officers of the NIS are feeding on.

However, both Rauf Aregbesola, the then, Minister of Interior who was among those that boldly said Nigerians should apply for passport online and never pay any officers and Isah Jere who seconded the idea and continually advocate for that through the verified social media handles of the service—shy away from the grotesque revelation that their officers are going against their policies. In fact, they didn’t bother to talk or act about it and the officers continued in the spirit of their extortion.

I had thought it was just happening in the Oyo and Osun States branches. But that was a mere costly assumption of me. After the publication of the story, I continually receive complaints on different no-receipt charges officers of the NIS collect from passport applicants. NIS leadership has done little or nothing to curb this act.

Official registration of passports on the NIS portal cost 26k for 32-page with the bank charges. Registration with an officer costs 45k or more. That is a wide gap. For 64-page the cost on the portal is 71k with bank charges but officers can charge more than this amount as they are pleased.

What is more. Applicants who registered online will suffer to get their passports done within the usual four weeks timeframe. Many had had their flights delayed or aborted because of their inability to get their passport on time. Some have many opportunities slipped away their glimpse.

I had the opportunity to meet with a young man coming from Ibadan to Osogbo branch of NIS. He told me he had spent two years on the collection of his passport. He said every time he comes they tell him, “it is not ready,yet.” Fortunately, he got his 32 page passport on that day but it was after two years. Of what good is the passport that will last for only five years and two years have been wasted to collect it?

But this experience is not always the case with those who get to apply illegally through NIS officers. They pay more, get extorted finely and then get their passport ready in a few weeks. Someone even shared her experience that she collected her passport the same day she registered. That day she paid 37k in the north.

In Port Harcourt, a source said “to submit an application” an applicant needs to pay a sum of “N5,000 and people pay.”

“They (officers) even tell you (applicants) to switch off your (their) phones when going into that section and it’s a cash based payment.”

@Holuwatobi011 one day ago posted this on Twitter as a comment under the NIS Twitter thread. No one replied him. “I registered for passport online, and came to Imo state immigration office. I went with all my documents including the guarantor’s form. This people made me to submit my phone on entry so I won’t be able to record their atrocity, they are asking for another 25k.

“I’ve paid 26k online, they are telling me it’s commitment. I will write all their names online if at all I can’t have good evidence or proof of how this extortion want to go.

“Can I change my state to my own state, everyone isn’t ready to do anything without paying commitment of 20k, I’m not doing express passport for Christ sake.”

Pompous22 on Twitter also wrote “Why are your staff in Owerri telling me that if I do online that my passport will take three months nobody is assigned to track it, but if I give them money at the office which is twice the sum online it will come out within two to three weeks how true is that?” He was not answered too.

Odukoya Abimobola tweeted “@nigimmigration I captured since April in Abeokuta, and till now, no news on my passport, yet someone that captured just 13th of June have received hers.., what’s going on?

Read also: Passport racketeering as organised crime at Nigeria Immigration Service, embassies

How will you people encourage online applications if we are being treated this way @MinOfInteriorNG.” No one replied.

But NIS replied Benzeen with a Twitter handle @Brainssmasher when he asked, “Can I pay the 25k passport fee online, and is it the only fee I get to pay?”

“Yes, to both questions,” NIS replied instantly.

It becomes a puzzling factor that NIS continually advocates to pay and register for passport online without paying any officers a dime. Yet officers are not allowing the policy to have a safe passage.

And all of these are openly going on while leaders of the NIS do as if they couldn’t see. So, I am still wondering if Madame Adepoju Carol Wura-Ola, the acting Comptroller General of NIS will ever do something different from Babandede, Jere and her past predecessors’ own. I am curious.

Oyedibu is the publisher of PIJAlance Magazine.