The Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) said that for the past one year, it has dismissed its eight officers while no fewer than 80 others are on trial for engaging in illegal collection of fees (extortion) for the issuance of new passports and renewal of old ones to Nigerians.
This was made known by the Service Public Relations Officer (SPRO), Comptroller of Immigration, Tony Akuneme, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
Akuneme said the disciplinary measures under the passport reform were part of the three-point agenda of the present Comptroller-General (CG), NIS, Isah Jere, when he came to power.
According to the NIS spokesperson, the CG’s three-point agenda is to reform passport issuance, tighten border security, and improve the welfare of NIS officers.
He said that Jere had done this to the best of his ability in the last year plus, and that is what has led to most applicants booking online for passports.
Akuneme said, “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.
“You don’t really need anybody, whether immigration officers or agents which we usually call touts. 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 civilized 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).”
He added that the CG had vowed to discipline officers who go out of their way to try to either engage or sabotage the reform process.
He said, “We have continued to punish NIS officers and men who try to assist people for a fee. You can assist people genuinely but not extort from them.
“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.”