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Passport applicants allege massive extortion by NIS officials

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Passport applicants allege massive extortion by NIS officials
• Nigerian International Passports

Some Nigerians who applied for international passports have accused personnel of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) Abuja passport office, of massive extortion.

The passport applicants said in spite of recent directive of the Minister of Interior, Dr Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo to the immigration authorities to sanitise the system, nothing much has changed.

The applicants who spoke in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), lamented that they were made to pay various sums of money by NIS officials before getting the travel document.

They also alleged that the electronic passport application system has been compromised, forcing those who followed due process with no alternative than to “settle” NIS officials in order to get their passports on time.

Some of them further alleged that even when the passport was ready, they were made to pay another N5,000 before collection.

An applicant, Mr Ahmed Isa, a civil servant, said that he had been to the passport office over 10 times and was yet to get his passport.

“I have been coming here since September to get a passport because I want to travel out of the country.

“First, they said the fee is N35,500 but now they have jacked it to N55, 500. This is for a passport with a duration of five years.

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“Everybody is telling you to pay this and that and the place is chaotic. The whole thing is frustrating,” Isa said.

Another applicant, Mohammed Umar, said that he came for the re-issuing of his passport which had expired but was told by a NIS official to pay additional “compliance fee”.

“When I asked them what the compliance fee is for, the man pushed me aside and walked away.

“All I have noticed here is that many of the officials are unruly and behaving as if they are not accountable to anyone,” Umar said.

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Another applicant who sought for anonymity, said she applied for passport renewal online in August 2022 and was still waiting.

“Every time I go to the immigration office to track its progress, officials kept telling me to contact the person helping me.

“It has been frustrating and depressing. Everyone expects and believe I should have a certain someone who is helping me.

“When I told them I did it online, I got the ‘ohh’ look and then the term ‘self-service’ follows me everywhere I turn to for help,” she added.

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Another passport applicant, Blessing Ibiyemi, told NAN that she missed out on a scholarship abroad because of her inability to get her passport processed in spite of following due process.

“I applied for passport in April and I just got my passport now in October after paying an extra N40,000 to process it.

“The first time I came to their office, I told them I paid online, they gave me a chair to sit and I was there for hours.

“When I asked them why I am still here, they told me to contact the officer helping me, I was shocked because I paid online and I didn’t expect any officer to be helping me.

“The NIS has not shown true commitment to wanting to tackle this menace,” Ibiyemi said.

A female applicant said under condition of anonymity that she missed a very important training abroad in spite of paying fully for the passport.

”I paid N116,000 for a 32-page passport booklet. At every stage of the process the personnel ask for money.

”I paid N70,000 initially and I was told to pay another N36,000 for adding another name, my marital name, then another N10,000 for approval of the passport, and at the collection point, I paid another N20,000.

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”When I demanded for receipt the personnel helping me became angry,” she said.

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Another victim, Mr Alarape Ogunmuyiwa, said that he was initially charged N80,000 for renewal of his passport.

Ogunmuyiwa added that he was later made to pay extra N20,000, because the official in charge told him that the expired passport was “defaced”.

“I am yet to get my booklet. They kept saying no booklets. The funny part is that, the officer in charge of my passport is not even picking my calls.

“Now, I have paid N100,000 to get my passport and yet I can’t access it, this is frustrating and I can’t take this anymore,” he said.

A journalist, Dennis Abraham, whose passport expired in August said after paying N120,000 for a 10-year validity passport, he was initially told to pay additional N25,000 and later another N15,000 to correct a mistake on his date of birth.

Abraham said that the immigration officer he was dealing with, said though NIMCI had effected correction to the date, the change is yet to reflect in the immigration portal.

“I’m still waiting after paying N160,000 to renew my passport. Hopefully it will be ready soon,” he added.

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An immigration official who pleaded anonymity told NAN that the system has been highly compromised, adding that those who applied for passport online “will take forever to get their passports”.

“What obtains now is to pay any officer who will fast-track the process for you and you’ll get your passport within the space of two weeks after application,” he said.

Another official told NAN that the extortion of passport applicants by fellow immigration officers is real.

He described the situation as not only embarrassing, but also a huge threat to national security.

“It is a menace, we may not know the full implication today until a little later when the negative impact of this issue begins to manifest in our national security negatively.

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“It has national security implications for Nigeria. We are talking about obtaining a Nigerian passport.

“Now, if we the officials involved are only after money, it means anybody can come into Nigeria through any of our porous borders, play the necessary game, and obtain anything that makes and certifies him as a Nigerian citizen,” he lamented.

The officer, who advised that drastic measures must be taken to curb the menace, urged passport applicants to resist any attempt to force them into offering bribe for passport.

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He said that it was important for victims of the extortion to report to higher authorities.

However, the Service Public Relations Officer, Dr Adedotun Aridegbe, dismissed the allegations as untrue, claiming that some passport applicants fabricate stories to dent the image of NIS.

According to him, it is not possible for applicants to pay more than the official amount for passport booklets.

“All these things are not true. It’s unrealistic. When I investigated some of these allegations, some applicants just formulate stories to tarnish our good image.

“We have officers that work round the clock including weekends and even run shifts to produce these passports.

“There is a task force set up by the Comptroller General, Mrs Caroline Adepoju to checkmate any illicit activities going on in the passport offices,” he claimed.

Aridegbe said instead of the “unfounded allegations”, Passport Control Officers across the nation should be commended for being able to clear backlogs of passport applications as directed recently by the minister.

He said both the Minister and the Comptroller General went through sleepless nights to ensure that the backlogs were cleared.

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The NIS spokesman however said disciplinary action would be taken against any officer found wanting. (NAN)

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86-year-old woman set ablaze by daughter over alleged witchcraft

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Gunmen abduct Company MD, three foreigners in Lagos
A 45-year-old woman simply identified as Abiodun and popularly called “Iya Sunday,” has set her mother ablaze in a bid to kill her.

Abiodun was told by a Pastor that she would be free from a spiritual bondage after the death of her 86-year-old mother.

Witnesses said the suspect poured petrol on her mother and set her ablaze on Friday morning around 5am.

The incident happened at Surulere, opposite Anglican Cathedral Church in Ondo West local government area of Ondo State.

Gory picture of the victim showed that she sustained severe burns all over her body and receiving treatment in an undisclosed hospital.

An eyewitness, Sola Oladele, said the suspect came to her mother’s house in the early hours of Friday.

He said she called out her mother before pouring petrol on her and setting her on fire.

According to him: “What happened between them before the incident we don’t know, but the suspect has been arrested by police at the Enu-Owa division for further investigation.”

Abiodun said her action was because she was told that her mother was behind her predicament.

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She said: “I went to my mother’s house around 4 a.m. and sat outside. When it was 5 am, I called out my mother from the house. Immediately after she came out, not knowing what was happening, I poured petrol on her body and set her on fire.

“What started it is that I went to one Pastor for prayers and he told me that my mother is behind what is happening to me. I did not believe it at first. My mother also took me somewhere to see one woman. After my mother left, the woman also said the same thing.

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“I burnt my mother because of what I heard from the pastor and the woman, that I can only be freed from bondage when my mother is dead.”

Police sources said the case would be transferred to the Police headquarters in Akure for further investigation. (The Nation)

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Gunmen abduct Company MD, three foreigners in Lagos, demand $1.5m ransom

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File: Kidnappers
Armed men suspected to be kidnappers have abducted four Lebanese including the Managing Director of Fouani Company, a prominent representative of LG and Hisense.

According to credible sources, the victims were travelling by boat from Apapa to Victoria Island when they were ambushed near Falomo Bridge. The kidnappers, whose identities are unknown, have demanded an astounding $1.5 million ransom.

Police Public Relations Officer of the Lagos State Police, Benjamin Hundeyin, confirmed the incident and stated that an investigation is ongoing.

He said, “Yes, we received the report and are investigating it.”
“We are currently working with their families and the Lebanese community to get them released,” Hundeyin explained.

However, the abduction has sparked outrage in the business community, with many calling for increased security measures to protect citizens.

The incident raises concerns about the safety of Lagos’ waterways and the effectiveness of law enforcement agencies in combating crime.

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ICPC grills woman who accused suspended Perm Sec of S*xual harassment

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ICPC grills woman who accused suspended Perm Sec of Sexual harassment
 •Suspended Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ibrahim Lamuwa
Simisola Fajemirokun-Ajayi, the woman who accused the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ibrahim Lamuwa, of s*xual harassment, has been grilled and thereafter released by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

This is in the wake of an ongoing investigation by the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF), following a letter from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Maitama Tuggar, in response to a petition written by Fajemirokun-Ajayi, against the permanent secretary.

In an exclusive interview with Daily Trust Saturday, an official of the ICPC said that Mrs Fajemirokun-Ajayi was quizzed for hours by the crack detectives of the commission over her allegations.

The official, who did not want his name in print, said Fajemirokun-Ajayi arrived at the commission’s headquarters at about 9:40 am, on Friday, alongside her lawyer; responded to various questions posed to her.

“She wasn’t arrested. She was invited and she honoured the invitation to come and substantiate the s*xual harassment allegations against the Permanent Secretary of her ministry, Ibrahim Lamuwa,” the official said.

The official said she was released after the interrogation on Friday, adding that she would still be called upon in future to make further clarifications if there is a need for her to do so.

Ambassador Lamuwa had responded to the query issued him by the head of service, denying all the allegations labelled against him.

The ICPC’s invitation letter inviting Mrs Fajemirokun-Ajayi was addressed to the minister of foreign affairs, requesting him to release her for questioning.

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The ministry received the ICPC letter titled: ‘Investigation Activities: Notice of Invitation’ on Thursday.

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It said: “In view of the above and pursuant to sections 28 and 40 of the said Act, you are kindly requested to release and direct Mrs Simisola Fajemirokun-Ajayi of the Ministry to appear for an interview before the undersigned at the Commission’s Headquarters, Abuja, on Friday, 14 June 2024 at 10:00 hours,” read the invitation letter dated June 11, and signed by Acting Director of Operations, S. Yahaya.

It is not immediately clear whose petition led to the ICPC investigation or what exactly the agency is investigating.

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