FG orders arrest of ex-ministers, lawmakers, others over Diplomatic Passports

The Federal Government, through the newly-appoint­ed Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Muhammad Babandede, has ordered the arrest of all former ministers and other political office holders still in possession of their diplomatic passports.

Babandede gave the order at his maiden meeting with the manage­ment of the NIS on Tuesday in Abu­ja.

He explained that the govern­ment had since last year ordered all former ministers, lawmakers and public officials who are still in possession of their diplomatic pass­ports and other official documents to submit them to the NIS.

Babanded said: “In view of the earlier publication for the return of official/diplomatic passports by former political office holders and retired public servants, it must be noted that charges will be pressed against unauthorised holders of such documents. This is because such persons are no longer in the Eligibility List and are therefore in contravention of Section 10 of the Extant Immigration Act, 2015.

“I am hereby directing that unau­thorised holders of such passports be arrested at the airports and oth­er points of entry/departure. Efforts will be made also to trace such un­authorised holders in their given addresses,” he said.

According to Babandede, 158 diplomatic passports and 310 offi­cial passports have so far been re­trieved.

The NIS CG also read the Riot Act to personnel who want to con­tinue with the old order, saying that “it is no longer going to be business as usual and that the era of bullying and extortion of people has gone.

“I am aware of money being extorted from the hands of pass­port applicants at various borders/checkpoints in the country. What is happening in the liberated territo­ries in the North East is most dis­turbing to me. Heartless Immigra­tion officers set illegal checkpoints in the hinterland to bully and extort money from citizens already devas­tated by Boko Haram insurgency. I will not accept this Service to be the second grade of Boko Haram.

“I am setting up an anti-corrup­tion squad, but before this I will hold the Zonal Coordinators and Comptrollers responsible. I do not want your blood money, as organ­ised crime law enforcement called ‘returns’…We will also do our best to send the limited resources avail­able for operations to avoid opera­tives funding job with corrupt mon­ies,” Babandede said.

He however warned against in­discipline, corruption, absenteeism and lobbying and ordered the de­centralisation of passport issuance and administration.

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