Passenger accuses Immigration officer of taking N5,000 bribe at Lagos Airport

A PASSENGER at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA) Chinedu Obikili has accused an officer of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) of extortion.

Obikili disclosed that he was forced to part with N5,000 on November 7 at the airport while embarking on an international trip.

He said he paid the bribe into a First Bank account with the name Awonusi Tubosun Junior.

Transaction receipt provided by Obikili.

The ICIR could not confirm if the accused is the account holder, as the passenger did not give his name.


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However, the demand for the N5,000 bribe came after the officer allegedly asked Obikili to provide proof of having at least $1,000 before embarking on the trip.

According to Obikili, efforts to convince the officer that he was not a first-time traveller yielded no results as the officer remained adamant.

“I explained that I was not a first-time traveller and simply renewed my old passport. He asked if I had the old one, and I showed him an electronic copy with my previous visas and immigration stamps. I also explained that I had friends at my destination and I had cash in my checked-in luggage for safety, but I was not comfortable carrying around large amounts of cash with me,” he told The ICIR.

The officer, however, went on to demand a bribe of N5,000, which he said was the only condition upon which Obikili would be allowed to make the trip.

“He insisted that I would not be allowed to travel unless I paid him some money. I also mentioned that I did not have cash with me, and he asked that I do a transfer to his personal account. I carried out a transfer of N5,000 to him and was allowed to travel,” Obikili stated.

The ICIR’s efforts to contact the NIS’ public relations officer, Tony Akuneme, on Friday over the allegation were unsuccessful as his phone was switched off.

Several Nigerians have raised concerns over harassment by airport officers, including Immigration, Nigerian Customs Service, the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria.

On Thursday, December 14, the NIS disclosed that it was investigating allegations of extortion of a United States-based professor, Moyo Okediji, by its officers.

Okediji made a post via Facebook alleging that he was made to part with about $540 after some Immigration officers demanded a bribe while arriving Nigeria from Ghana through the Seme border.

“They asked for my Nigeria passport. I told them it had expired and I was in Nigeria to renew it. They said it was an offence for me to enter the country with an expired passport. I apologised. But they wanted none of that. They said I had to ‘settle’ them. They had my wallet containing the money I brought to spend in Nigeria.






     

     

    “They saw two twenty-dollar notes and said I needed to give them these notes, otherwise, they would seize all the money in the wallet and take me to their office to make a statement. I had heard stories of visitors to the country ending up dead when the Police invited them to their offices to clear some issues. So, I eagerly gave them the forty dollars. They gave me back my things. But when I counted my money later, $500 was missing,” he said.

    On Tuesday, December 12, the NCS announced that it had commenced investigations into the conduct of a female officer, who had been caught in a viral video demanding a bribe of N5,000 from a traveller.

    The NCS’ National Public Relations Officer (PRO), Abdullahi Maiwada, confirmed this in a statement. He described the officer’s conduct as inappropriate.

    “The recording reveals an inappropriate request for N5,000 in exchange for expeditious processing of customs procedures. We wish to confirm that the officer implicated is indeed a member of the Nigeria Customs Service, properly assigned to the Murtala Mohammed International Airport Area Command,” Maiwada said.

    Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via [email protected] or @ije_le on Twitter.

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