The Acting Comptroller-General of Immigration (Ag. CGI), Isa Idris Jere, has cautioned officers and men of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Command to desist from extorting passengers. He said the service would spare no efforts to punish offenders.

Jere, who spoke during a visit to the airport, said extortion by either Immigration personnel or anybody attached to any of the security agencies, does not only tarnish the image of the country but also brings their work to ridicule as ambassadors at the country’s entry /exit points.

He said the NIS was getting embarrassed with the content of the videos circulated to the public about alleged extortion at airports.

He said the NIS would investigate those involved in the unwholesome conduct.

Jere said the NIS was collaborating with the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and other security agencies at airports across the country to improve passenger facilitation through increased check-in desks and other facilities to scale up their operations.

He said NIS personnel are part of the aviation security meetings at the airport whose mandate is to ensure that persons on the watch-list are not allowed to travel out of the country.

Jere said the service will not spare any officer caught in any unprofessional conduct at the nation’s airports, stressing that acts like extortion, and other vices will attract drastic action as part of efforts to salvage the nation’s image.

Jere inspected the working environment and met with the airport manager to discuss modes of improving facilitation.

The Acting CG said: “We work 24/7, it’s an entry point and I came to see my officers and men to inform them on the need to be courteous, to be security conscious in the entry point. There are video clips going round on extortion at airports so we need to talk to them, we need to synergize. It is not only NIS that is at the airport, several agencies are there and we need to do a family meeting, talk to our people and draw their attention to what is happening so they can work accordingly.

“The entry and exit ports were considered as critical reform points to ensure increased passenger experience. We certainly cannot continue to condone and unacceptable conducts particularly on our critical service windows. The image burden is huge while the economic implications of missing out on viable foreign investment are better imagined than explained.

“Some drastic actions against extortion, solicitation and all kinds of unprofessional conducts must be eschewed and we at NIS will not spare our personnel caught in any unprofessional practice. We must make conscious efforts to salvage our country’s image.

“The laws are there. Quite recently, NIS has launched a code of ethics and recall, few weeks ago, I was at Ikoyi too, so investigations are ongoing, anybody found wanting would be dealt with accordingly, the rules are there for whoever offends the law,” he said.

On creation of more desks at the gateway to further speed up facilitation as well as deployment of technology to help improve security, Jere said: “Additionally too on the area of clearance we have MIDAS, we are a security agency, we have to check and confirm whether you are not on the watch list. So the system is a bit slower but we are trying to increase the current desks that is why I am here to see on the ground, to see how we are able to assist the NIS at the airport to provide more equipment for them so that these would be seamless.”

On the need to aid facilitation, Jere said this was key as border security and efficient passenger facilitation are critical considerations in accessing the investment environment of nations.

Welcoming Jere, the Regional General Manager of South West, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mrs. Victoria Shinaba expressed delight at the visit stressing that all agencies at the Ports should join forces to clean up the very unacceptable practices going on at the nation’s Ports.

She noted that all the secret cameras at the Lagos Port have been revamped and called on Passengers to report any poor conduct by any Officials through all available channels at the Ports for appropriate actions. She further called on other agencies at the Ports to step up checks and monitoring of their staff to ensure that no Officials get away with any allegation of sharp practices.

The Acting CG was in company of Assistant Comptroller General Zone A, Mrs. Oluremi Talabi and Comptroller NIS, Airport Command A.A Dalhatu when they inspected the operations of the service at the MMIA and spoke to men of the service.

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