ICPC promises to investigate corruption at Nigerian passport offices after ICIR’s investigative report

THE Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has promised to look into the ICIR’s report which investigated how corrupt officials of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) extort applicants at Nigerian passport offices.

The spokesperson of the anti-corruption agency, Azuka Ogugua, said this on Friday, September 9 during a Twitter space organized by The ICIR.

The space was titled, ‘Bribery and Extortion in Nigerian Passport Offices: Experiences and Solutions.’

Participants at the session included human rights lawyer, Festus Ogun;  senior research analyst at BudgiT Foundation, Vahyala Kwaga; and senior legal adviser at Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Adelanke Aremo. 

However, the spokesperson of the NIS, Amos Okpu, failed to show up at the session. 

The ICIR had on September 1, 2022 published an investigation revealing how corrupt Immigration officers had been extorting Nigerian passport seekers despite the launch of the digital portal meant to improve the process and curb corruption.

The report detailed the ordeals of many Nigerians who suffered extortion from NIS officials while attempting to obtain Nigerian passports.

It further revealed the faces of some NIS officers at its headquarters forcing applicants, who had gone through the due process of obtaining a passport, to pay bribes.

More than a week after the investigation was published, there had been no official statement from the agency.

The ICIR invited Okpu to the session to speak on the agency’s efforts in tackling the menace, but he refused to show up, neither did he send a representative.

Ogugua said, “Corruption in Immigration is just a reflection of corruption all over the country. When we talk about corruption in Immigration offices, it is a reflection of the failure of the system. You need to get to the root causes to know what is going on.

“I can assure you that if there are victims of corruption there are also beneficiaries, and to reduce corruption, you have to reduce the benefits for the people benefiting from it.

“ICPC is working all around the country in every sphere to reduce the incentives for the corrupt and increase the cost of corruption, as it were, so that for those that are corrupt, they would get things more difficult and they would get punished for it.”

    She noted that the mandate of the agency cuts across enforcement and sanctioning, to ensuring that those caught are adequately punished to serve as a deterrent for others and reduce corruption to the barest minimum.

    She explained that the ICPC had earlier conducted an investigation on corruption in the Nigerian international passport process and made its recommendations to the management in order to bridge the gap and improve the process for Nigerians.

    Ogugua urged Nigerians to report cases of corruption to the ICPC and identify people involved, through the agency’s email or website, or write an official letter, to assist it in its fight against corruption.

    She promised that the agency would look into the ICIR report and investigate the matter appropriately.

    Nurudeen Akewushola is an investigative reporter and fact-checker with The ICIR. He believes courageous in-depth investigative reporting is the key to social justice, accountability and good governance in the society. You can shoot him a scoop via [email protected] and @NurudeenAkewus1 on Twitter.

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