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The Comptroller-General of Immigration, Mohammed Babandede has said the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), has made lots of changes to the service in making sure that Nigerians home and abroad have easy access to any country of their choices.
He made this known when Association For Good Governance Network Nigeria, a Non Governmental Organisation, (NGO) paid him a courtesy call at the Service Headquarters in Abuja recently.
Babandede reiterated the effort of the agency for keying into the ideas and drive of Mr President, on making Nigerians have easy access to Nigerian International Passport both In Nigeria and at our Foreign missions.
He explained that his ambition is to improve and empower the institution.
"This is not about me but the institution. I'm glad some of you are living in Diaspora and know what is obtainable over there. Our duties are enormous, Immigration has responsibilities towards everybody.
First we deal with Aliens (foreign nationals). Anybody who is a non Nigerian but resides in Nigeria is our responsibility.
"You would agree with me that if you have passed through our international airports of recent, you would have seen changes. I don't want people to even look at me (Babandede) as the one who made the changes, I want people to see the changes in the immigration services in terms of entry and exist processes. It is deliberate, not by coincidence. The horses-marking is to make officers treat others the way they want to be treated," he said.
The CG of Immigration noted that there are new changes which affect officers training and commitment to duty. He added that any officer caught in an act of bribery/corruption would face the full wrath of the law.
"The first offence is when you arrive into Nigeria and an officer shower's you with unnecessary encomium, it isn't a good welcome, it's a demand for bribe. So we deliberately taught officers to be friendly to themselves and travelers. We were awarded as the best Agency in the airport last year and committed to doing more.
"Visa/entry permit: When I came onboard as the CG of Immigration, Visa on arrival used to procured physicall, you may not know because you weren't involved. Visa on arrival is meant for businessmen. Just imagine some businessmen like Dangote or Otedola are in Canada, then suddenly got a call from their business associate for a meeting in the U.S.A. the law of visa is that you don't get visa in a country where you are not a residence or a country where you are a national. Like a Nigerian citizen can't go and get an American visa in Ghana, it's not possible, except if you a residence of that country.
"We have now made it online Visa on arrival. Just go to our website www.immigration.gov.ng and apply and we do the rest. Today, we are doing just web-based Visa on arrival. You don't need to apply by email, you apply online, by completing the form & make your online payment, we vet and give you approval then you come to Nigeria, as easy as that.
" To me, this is very important because it changes our image. You don't need to know anybody to do this. We don't want to see your cash. We have changed the way business is done in terms of Visa on Arrival because many companies, businessmen are attesting to this," he explained.
Mohammed Babandede further noted that the president would be commissioning a new passport centre at the Headquarters on Friday 12th July 2019
"As you can see, there is constructions going on all over. The processing centre is going to be online too. Don't come with cash, we will give you more preference. You will be allowed to come pick a ticket, wait and be captured and leave. Mr President taxed us earlier when he announced the reforms. It is now available in Lagos and Abuja and the next place would be Kano and others areas as well as Diaspora.
He also talks about other developmental Strides of the agency.
"Since Nigeria immigration started in the 1960s, there wasn't a training manual but fortunately we developed one last year including teachers guide. We brought expert to develop the documents and we also brought in 36 Professors of curriculum development who contributed to the pages. We have developed personnel training centres where it won't only happens in school, but also in learning centres where you can easily log on, study, pass your exams and print your results at ease," he said.
Babandede also spoke about plans to enhance security through digital identification.
"This new development is important to national security because we have linked passport with the national identity while the national identity is now linked to BVN. we are also telling non-Nigerians that when you register, we would link you also to BVN, We want everyone residing in Nigeria to have a number to be identified with for security reasons. This would change the paradigm of security, social development and peaceful coexistence in the nation. I'm also calling on civil society organizations like yourselves, to propagate and tell people about the development happening in the service," he noted.
Speaking on his achievement and also given suggestion to the CG, Amb. Hussaini Coomassie who led the high powered delegation to his office, thanked the Immigration Boss and his officers for putting their lives on the line for the country and also keying into the innovation the CG has brought to the service.
He explained that the service has never had it this good adding, that there are visible infrastructural development going on at the headquarters which everyone can see.
He urged him not to relent, but to see it as a call to duty to continue doing what he knows best.
"As former personnel of this great security organisation, I will urge him to look into staff welfare. Because if they are kind of shortchanged, they won't be able to do mor, it is not just the infrastructural development alone, i thank him for putting the officers first. You were there when he talked about the new development he incorporated in the service which wasn't there . The implantation as he said earlier would help in enhancing the upgrading of the personnel to boost their workforce and also cushion the security challenges.
"I also want to advice him to continue with his good work on border protection. The government support is highly needed in this aspect, because there's no way he can do it alone. They need more finances to be able to move the service forward. The border management is one important aspect he need to focus on now. The immigration need more financial support to enable them protect our borders.
"If you check the banditry going on today, it's caused by inflow of illegal immigrants via poor borders. But with the help of the government by assisting the service with more fundings to the Immigration as a security agency, the issue of border insecurity would be put to rest. The focus is more on Police and the Military, forgetting that if the Nigerian boarders are poor, aliens would come in and ferment trouble. What we need now is border empowerment, empower the border patrol so that they could protect us from evil people with bad intention from outside Nigeria," he said adding that "What I'm advising the FG, not just the immigration boss, is to support the agency financially to be able to boost our borders with joint patro, collaboration with other security agencies," he concluded.
The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) was extracted from the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) in August, 1958. It was at that time referred to as the Immigration Department and headed by the Chief Federal Immigration Officer (CFIO).
The Immigration Department was established by an Act of Parliament (Cap 171, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria) on August 1, 1963 when Alhaji Shehu Shagari was the Minister of Internal Affairs (a position now referred to as Minister of Interior).
The initial Law regulating Immigration Duties was the Immigration Act of 1963 which was amended in 2014 and again in 2015 (Immigration Act, 2015).
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