I do not think i have come across any Nigerian on the street of Lagos, Kogi, Rivers or Imo who paid the official fee for either obtaining or renewing of Nigerian International Passport. It is always way above the official fee.
On August 1, 2014, the review of cost of Nigeria International Passport became effective and a new 64-page passport that will be used alongside the existing the 32-page was also introduced.
The then Comptroller General, NIS, David Shikfu Parradang, stated that a 64-page passport, will go for N20, 000, while applicants for 32-page passport but below the age of 18, will pay N8, 750 while those between 18 to 60 years will pay N15, 000. Applicants above 60 years applying for a 32-page passport will pay N8, 750. He also added that additional N20,000 will be paid for change of data/loss of passport, while change of name as a result of marriage, divorce or deceased spouse, will cost N8, 750. Change of data on request also will be done at the cost of N30, 000.
A visit to the official website of the Nigeria Immigration Service, www.immigration.gov.ng, the above listed fee is the same and renewal fee for both the standard and official e-passport is N17,600(seventeen thousand, six hundred naira). There is a notice on the website which states;
“Payment for all immigration services now online”
All payments are done through the online payment platform. Please apply using the button from the top of the page: “Apply online”. The application process concludes with payment. Depending on your application, you will have available different payment methods.”
A random enquiry at the Kaduna office of the Nigeria Immigration Service on Independence Way in Kaduna, a premises it jointly shares with the Nigeria Prison Service highlight the rot and the corruption in this organisation. I was told it is not any different in any formation across the federation.
From the moment you step into the office, you are welcomed by an atmosphere of indiscipline and corruption. Once you made you purpose of visit known, an immigration officer attends to you and slams you a fee of N25000 (twenty-five thousand naira) as it was for passport renewal.
You are taken to one of the numerous business centres on the premises which are there as part of this massive fraud. From our assessment of the situation on ground, each Business Centre is controlled by a cartel.
The practice at those business centres is the log in straight to the application page so most applicants do not get to see the homepage with the notice that all payments are to be made online. While filling the form, in a bid to shut the applicant out from having the accurate information and any correspondence about the transaction and application, the business centres fill their email addresses in the email column on the form.
Our correspondent was lucky to interact with one of the victims of this fleece. Kingsley has an urgent need to attend a conference in Istanbul, Turkey. He is an Entrepreneur who stumbled on this opportunity which he sees as a massive boost to his IT business.
He told our correspondent he walked into the Immigration Office in Kaduna in a bid to process the renewal his International Passport, and was told to pay the sum of N25,000(Twenty –five thousand naira) by an immigration officer who simply identified himself as Abdul. Who claimed the aforementioned amount was approved by the Nigerian Senate.
Kingsley also corroborated our findings when he told our correspondent “officer Abdul” took him to one of the business centres inside the immigration office compound there where he was told to make the payment.
He said he went to his office did online payment and registration using the immigration portal and his transaction was successful.
If he felt he had escaped being fleeced, Kingsley got the shocker of his life when he went back to immigration office on Independence Way and was told he has to pay the sum of Five thousand naira after he presented evidence and submitted a copy of his payment slip and old international passport with two passport photographs. He said the “processing officer ‘who is known as Harry and is not dressed in any uniform simply told him “that is the tradition’.
In the company of our correspondent, they both walked in under the pretence of pleading with “Officer Harry”, right in their presence, he counted an estimated sum of N150,000(one hundred and fifty thousand naira) which he kept disbursing into each file. This was as early as 10.43am.
Kingsley told our reporter that he no choice than to go source for the money as he cannot allow this opportunity to slip him by and lamented that this is “how Nigerians are falling for this daily scam at the hands of immigration officers”.
He kept wondering if we truly have the change we clamoured for in place. One thing is sacrosanct; the Nigeria Immigration Service in Kaduna is truly Nigeria Immigration Business Centres.