Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos Command seem not to have done wrong in holding into the passports of some athletes from Kenya, Burundi and other African countries on arrival in Nigeria.
Investigation revealed that the athletes entered Nigeria without money to pay for their Visas on arrival contrary to reports that their passports were seized on arrival without any cause.
Investigations further revealed that the Local Organising Committee (LOC) was supposed to make arrangements for their easy passage into Nigeria through online visa payment before their arrival, but failed to do this, which led to their delay at the Lagos Airport.
A source close to the immigration service in Abuja confided in our correspondent today that a lot of the athletes ought to have processed their Visas online and make payments before arriving Nigeria, but failed to so, a situation, which led to their temporary delay at the airport.
The immigration source insisted that the command did not seize any of the athletes’ passports, but only collected them for issuance of sticker Visas on their passports, which was necessary for them to enter the country.
At the Lagos Airport, it was gathered that the technical partner of immigration, New Works had to issue each and every one of the athletes ID and reference numbers, which is always cumbersome because of internet connectivity.
This it was learnt was done immediately the payments were made by the representatives of the athletes.
The source insisted that immigration at the Lagos Airport were not responsible for the delay on arrival of the athletes to Asaba, Delta State, stressing that the officers carried out their duties professionally as expected from them.
The source said: “A lot of them came in at once and none of them could pay for visa on arrival, which is a policy of the Federal Government. As you know, we don’t collect cash at immigration any longer. The local organising committee was not able to make the payment because it did not make enough preparation towards their arrival into Nigeria. They all came at once and New Works, which is our technical partner had to generate ID and reference number for each and every one of them to make the payment easier.
“But, as they were not able to generate the payment, instead of delaying them and keep them at the airport until when the payment is done, we collected their passports so that when the payment is done, we put the visas and stickers on their passports and return it to the organising committee. We allowed them to come in, but collected their passports for sticker visas because if their passports were with them, there was no way we would have put the Visas on their individual passports.”
This policy had ease the rigours experienced by travellers coming into Nigeria had also increased the number of tourists into the country by 30 per cent in the first half of 2018 when compared to the same period in 2017.