The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA) Lagos Command has called on airlines to administer passenger information cards onboard the aircraft to reduce delays on arrival at airports.
The Comptroller, NIS, MMIA Command, Abdullahi Usman who made this call while playing host to members of the Association of Foreign Airlines and Representatives in Nigeria, (AFARN) said it was the responsibility of the airlines apart from distribution of information cards to also ensure that the cards were filled appropriately by passengers to avoid delays at the Immigration counters.
He emphasised that if the documents or cards do not have the required information the NIS needed, it could result in officers asking certain questions to update the cards leading to delay in processing.
His words: “With COVID-19, there will be minimal delay in clearance, minimal because right from port health, there is some routine that is needed to be done there some minutes and go.
Once they come to immigration counter we will want to do it after another there is some information, if their departure cards do not go in line with what we need then we will ask them one or two questions and asking one or two questions to update the information some seconds will go.”
Usman while urging airlines to ensure proper profiling of passengers before boarding especially those with the right visas and other relevant documents for airport facilitation, stated: “It is the responsibility of airlines to make sure that no passenger embarks on a journey without the requirements for embarkation, your profiling, your screening is done in the diaspora, you and I here in the country, talk to your colleagues to do effective profiling of passengers that have the right visas to come in.”
The NIS Lagos airport Chief stressed that the implementation of social distance was one of the key precautionary measures that must strictly be adhered to, adding that, the implementation and control of passengers should start from the airlines while assuring of seamless passengers clearance.
According to Usman, who hinted that the elderly and the nursing mothers would be given special attention even with the COVID-19; “from their arrival, we quickly give them their routes to go, the elderly ones and nursing mothers.”
Usman on the occasion announced that the Service had introduced some measures in this period of the pandemic to assist some select persons including those seeking a work permit and those with an expired residence permit.
According to him, the Comptroller General of Immigration, Mohammed Babandede has approved that foreigners whose residence permit in Nigeria had expired within the COVID-19 shut down should still be admitted in contact with the airlines.
“The Comptroller General has graciously approved that those kinds of passengers we should admit them in contact with airlines. Just let us know A, B, C document has expired, let us share the information and we will let you go ahead.”
On work permit, the Lagos airport immigration Chief said an online Temporary Work Permit, (TWP) visas, pre-approval had been introduced because of the closure of the foreign missions due to the pandemic.
He explained that unlike before now the Pre-approval was not seen but only the visa, adding that this was for a short time and when things pick up fully, it would no longer be acceptable.
“But now we have introduced online pre-approval temporary work permit because the foreign missions are closed and the approval is given to the foreigner to come, a directive has been given to us that they should present the pre-approval to the airline and they administer them and at the same time we now open full that will no longer be tenable.
“It is just an interim measure and some airlines have been contacting us and we say okay allow them to come, we now issue them visa at arrival, you know we have visa on arrival and when they come, it is the responsibility of the passengers to do online payment, not the airline that is the COVID online procedure.”