Reps to probe NIS, Nigerian passport racket syndicates
• Kick against sinister move to subvert TSA policy
The House of Representatives, on Thursday, unveiled plans to investigate the alleged passport racketeering and other corrupt practices at the offices of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) with a view to bringing the culprits to book.
The resolution was passed sequel to the adoption of a motion on the “Need to investigate the alleged extortion, passport racketeering and corrupt practise by the Nigeria Immigration Service”, sponsored by Hon. Chinedu Ogah, who frowned at the alleged sharp practices in the issuance of the Nigerian international passports.
In his lead debate, Hon. Ogah observed that despite the recent increase in the cost of the new standard passport with 32 pages at the cost of N25,000 while the 64-booklet passport costs N35,000 and both have a five-year validity period, the activities of racketeers have continued unchecked.
“There have been several reports of alleged extortion of Nigerians seeking to acquire international passports by personnel of the Nigeria Immigration Service.
“The House is also concerned that unsuspecting members of the public are made to pay as high as N50,000 to immigration officers with a promise to fast track processing of their international passport.
“The House is aware that the policy of Treasury Single Account (TSA), developed by the International Monetary Fund, was fully implemented by President Muhammad Buhari in 2015 to promote accountability and transparency in public administration, hence Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and Government Owned Enterprises (GOEs) were directed to transfer all financial assets from commercial banks to a consolidated revenue fund domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“The House is disturbed that in spite of the inestimable success of the policy, officers of a revenue-generating agency such as the Nigeria Immigration Service are plagued by the sinister desire to subvert the policy with the ultimate goal of fattening their pockets, thus impeding the drive for a better Nigeria.
“The House is also disturbed that the collection of cash by immigration personnel, instead of payment through Remita, which is the official TSA payment channel, is in gross violation of the policy of the Federal Government.
“The House is worried that as a result of the unscrupulous activities of officers of the Nigeria Immigration Service at the various passport offices nationwide, well-meaning Nigerians are being denied legitimate access to the services of the agency and the country is being bled of millions of revenue through corrupt personnel.
“The House is also worried that the rising trend of passport racketeering would expose the country to foreign criminals who may take advantage of the corrupt practices to acquire Nigerian passports and commit crimes that could tarnish the country’s image.
“The House is cognisant of the need to discourage corruption in any form by ensuring that errant officers and their cronies are made to face the full wrath of the law,” he emphasised.
In the bid to block all the revenue leakages, the House underscored the need for Federal Government to ensure that all payments to the Nigeria Immigration Service are done through the appropriate TSA channel and anyone violating the terms of the policy is made to face the full wrath of the law.
To this end, the House mandated its Committee on Interior to ensure implementation and report back within four weeks for further legislative action.