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.