The Comptroller General of Immigration, CGI Martins Abeshi, has warned officers involved in charging extra payment for issuance of passports to desist or be ready to be sacked once exposed.
He gave the warning during his maiden visit to Lagos since his appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The immigration boss said President Buhari specifically appointed him in order to address the high rate of corruption in the Nigeria Immigration Service.
He said, “I don’t want any of us to engage in corrupt practices. Corrupt practices in passport offices are not far from extortion, charging more than what government said you should collect from applicants; collecting unnecessary fees which the government hasn’t stated.
“That must stop and that is the message I have for you from President Buhari. All our jobs, including mine, are on the line if we are found wanting. If we are doing this, let us stop it”.
According to him, the Federal Government had put some mechanisms in place to expose corrupt officers, citing an instance of using marked money to bribe corrupt officers.
He added, “I want us to try as much as possible to stop these corrupt practices. Let me warn you that the era of marked money is here. Those of you who collect millions and thousands from people should be warned. If you collect the money and you think you have hit the jackpot, when they arrest you, I will disown you.
“So, be careful. I advise you to be careful. President Buhari is spending a lot of money fighting corruption”.
Abeshi said his ears has been filled with reports that some immigration officers usually extorted money from private companies under the guise of checking foreigners, who lacked work permits.
He immediately ordered an end to such unprofessional practice.
He added, “I have received complaints of visitations to companies particularly in Lagos under the guise of inspecting immigration documents in the most unprofessional manner.
“Following these complaints, I hereby announce that inspection of documents at companies have been suspended forthwith until the time the service will produce a new template for such an exercise”.
The immigration boss, who on Monday urged all ex-government officials to turn in their diplomatic passports, said he was so far impressed with the level of compliance.
He said the call had become necessary because some ex-government officials were using the passports to perpetrate nefarious activities.
Also speaking, the Comptroller, Murtala Muhammed Airport Command, Mrs. Chizoba DIbi, said between January and December 2014, no fewer than 1,294,010 people arrived Nigeria through the MMA while 1,491,448 travelled outside the country.
She also said 17 stowaways were arrested while 5,149 Nigerians were deported through the airport.