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Published On: Fri, Jun 17th, 2016

Passport Racket: Nigerians Raise Alarm as Alausa Immigration Officers’ Extortion Spree Continue

IMMIGRATION CONTROLLER
LAGOS JUNE 17TH (URHOBOTODAY)-Many Nigerians are groaning following delays in procuring the Nigerian passport. The amount they pay to procure the document especially at the Alausa passports office is giving applicants concern.
Contrary to the official price of N15, 000 for the procurement of International Passport, Urhobotoday learnt that the Ikeja Immigration Service passport office charges between N25, 000 and N40, 000.

Despite that the Immigration boss, Martins Kure Abeshi had at various fora maintained that the government approved amount is N15, 000 for a 32-page passport, but what Lagosians who patronize the Alausa passports office, Ikeja experience in the hands of the Immigration officials in the state was different.
When Urhobotoday correspondent visited the office of the Nigeria Immigration Service at Alausa, Ikeja, many touts including men of the service in uniform rushed at him, asking if he was there for passport.
A victim of the extortion told our correspondent that the immigration official charges the same price for both new and renewal of passport. According to him, “the moment you go through him, he charges you based on his impression about your financial status. Their common excuse is that booklets are in short supply from Abuja.
“He would then offer to help you. He takes you personally to some touts within the premises to collect the money and pay it for you in the bank. If you say you can’t afford it, he tells you to go and sit where hundreds of people who have spent weeks without success sit.
“At the end, you would be frustrated when you wait endlessly for the arrival of booklets from Abuja. If you need it urgently, you don’t have any option other than to pay the required amount. When they give you the bank teller, they write the amount charged in an illegible way that makes it difficult for anybody to get the actual payment made”, the victim narrated.
Some journalists who shared their personal experiences said residents in the state; especially illiterates are being ripped off on daily basis. Some of them who had finished all the procedures are still yet to get their passports after three weeks. “Immigration boss, Martins Abeshi is paying ‘lip service’ to the fight against corruption in Immigration. Disguise as an applicant and go to Alausa passport office, you would discover for yourself what Nigerians go through everyday. Some of the officers there are super-rich and the government is keeping quiet over it.” Spokesman of the NIS, King Ekpedeme who reacted to these allegations noted: “The official price for Nigerian passports is N15, 000, N2, 000 commission is collected from the applicant as commission for consultants who would verify the address of the applicant. “If booklets being used by passports offices get finished, they are supposed to inform the Immigration headquarters immediately. Booklets are not in short supply and collection of Nigerian passports is not supposed to exceed 3 to 4 days after the applicant must have been captured.”

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