Visa scam: Embassies should monitor their officials – Nigerian Ambassador

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aminu Wali, has urged embassies in Nigeria to monitor activities of their officials to check increase in visa frauds.

Mr. Wali gave the advice on Tuesday in Lagos at a one-day seminar on visa scams organised by the Independent Corrupt Practises and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC.

He said that embassies should complement the work of his ministry and ICPC by monitoring activities of their officials and report unscrupulous visa agents through the appropriate channels.

The seminar had the theme: “Instilling Integrity in Visa Procurement Process in Nigeria.”

The minister was represented by the Director, Consular and Immigration Service in the Ministry, Abdulazeez Dankano.
He said Nigerians no longer enjoyed hospitality abroad due to few Nigerians engaging in crimes, including visa scams.

“It is unfortunate that in spite of laws and sundry control mechanisms put in place by government to curtail the activities of touts in embassies and our airports, the sharp practices of obtaining visa illegally have persisted.

“It is in this regard that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs considers this seminar very appropriate and commends the ICPC for sensitising the process which has led to the arrest and prosecution of the suspects and their collaborators.

“This seminar will further expose the dubious tricks of the visa procurement scam and encourage responsible individuals and corporate bodies to avoid such unwholesome malpractice,” Mr. Wali said.

The Chairman of ICPC, Ekpo Nta, said the seminar was informed by the increase and complaints in visa fraud in the country.

He said that there should be integrity by all citizens in procuring visa applications.
Presenting the ICPC interventions in visa procurement process, Abbia Udofia, ICPC Legal Deputy Director, said 35 persons were arrested for alleged involvement in visa scams between 2013 and June 2014.

Mr. Udofia said five persons were arrested in June 2014 through Taiwanese Embassy, while 17 cases were pending in various courts across the country.

“The commission seized 372 passports from various travel agents and touts. We returned 65 passports to their owners, while others yet to collect theirs have been invited to do so,” Mr. Udofia said.

One of the participants, Aminu Agoha, President, National Association of Travel Agents of Nigeria, said that his association generated about $1.1 billion dollars (about N176 billion) between 2013 and June 2014.
Mr. Agoha said the money was generated through sales of airline tickets, stressing that the airlines in return paid taxes to the Federal Government.

He, however, called on the embassies and the ICPC to always furnish the association with the names of agents arrested for visa fraud for appropriate sanctions.

About 126 persons participated in the seminar, including officials from the Nigeria Immigration Service, the customs, military, embassies, and travel agents, among others.