Jealousy and Corruption With Nigerian Immigration and custom
Jealousy and Corruption With Nigerian Immigration and custom
Has anyone ever been trapped in the normal routine wahala with the Nigerian Immigration while leaving or returning to the country, if not I would tell you about my experience and that of most Nigerian citizens holding a Nigerian passport just because we are not the so called “oyibo”. "Don't Give Bribes", it orders in block letters. Underneath those signs, travelers have long counted bills into the hands of waiting airport employees and thuggish-looking secret police officers. A short walk away, customs officers gladly stop harassing travelers after demanding tips. "What do you have for me?" is nearly as commonly heard in the airport as "Have a nice flight." Security officials sometimes stare blankly at the ceiling as luggage rolls through X-ray machines. The lights in the terminal occasionally flicker. It makes a traveler wonder: What kind of a place is this?
My first experience with the customs was during my second trip out of the country through Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport Abuja, on a London-bound British Airways flight that morning with my mum. As we approached the customs after checking in, they went through my mum’s passport handed it over to her took my passport and said to me to wait and they withheld my passport, on enquiring what the problem was the officer said to me that was not my passport right in front of my mum and I asked him what was he insinuating, then he said I need to wait while he attend to other people then I said to him my flight would be leaving in an hour if I don’t go on that flight he would have to cater for my bills and expenses for every other day spent in the country then he went on saying I just insulted him and that I was a drug pusher! Can u imagine the idiot… at that time I was just 18 travelling with my mum, then I went mad and I said to him you need to do a proper check on me and if you find no incriminating evidence on me then will be in trouble, so he did as I said, after the checks by a female custom officers I was told to go and board the airplane. Now, you know the most annoying thing was the fact that the same man walked up to my mum and said “MADAM WE ARE JUST DOING OUR JOB WHAT DO YOU HAVE FOR US” that was when my mum got mad and insisted in seeing the person in charge, and he started apologising to me and addressing me as ‘sir’ and this was a man old enough to be my dad. What a shame! It appears obvious that corruption being most glaring problem for everyday travelers could lead to serious safety lapses. The Lagos airport is one of the most corrupt you can find," grumbles, a Lagos businessman. "Each time I travel through the airport, and this is frequent, I am stopped at every point by customs or immigration officers attempting to extort money." Even the government concedes there are problems, suggesting in newspaper advertisements that visiting businessmen arrange for colleagues to pick them up at the airport, Still, it's not a bad idea to keep some bills on hand at the airport, just in case. If the demands for cash are nowhere near as blatant or widespread as they once were, there are plenty of airport officials still in search of extra money. Last month a friend of mine encountered a similar problem while coming into the country. The immigration personnel at the arrival of non-Nigerian citizens smile heartily at the white foreigners, whereas on getting to the blacks their anxiety sizzled like a heater. My friend walked up to the official who looked at him and asked “Is this your passport and my friend smiled at him just before he was asked to prove it. Do you know what the man said “YOU LOOK LIKE AN HAUSA MAN WITH THE MARK ON YOUR FACE AND YOUR NAME DOES NOT MARCH WITH IT AND THE HAIR IS DIFFERENT ON THE PASSPORT FROM THE ONE YOU HAVE NOW”… My God can you imagine the so-called proof and my friend said to him you are just kidding and he said he just insulted him that he’s going to get him arrested. After 5mins another officer came and my friend explained to him, he said don’t be offended but how did you get your citizenship in that country and what process did u follow? My friend said to him “I cant tell you that”, The second official then said “You are a nice man what did you bring for us Sir”, and my friend said “Sorry I don’t have anything for you” and they returned his passport. In the baggage hall, he picked his bags, on getting the trolley the FAAN assistant said to him, “Just bring 5pounds dem no go check your load before you pass the custom” and he asked why and how he said he would help him give the money to the custom officers when they are about to leave the hall so they will not mess his things up in the suitcases he was carrying. Obviously, my friend refused. When he got there the first thing he heard was “ YOU ARE WELCOME, WHAT DO YOU HAVE FOR US” as if it’s a compulsory levy. This friend of mine replied and said noting sir, so they insisted in searching the suitcases after checking the man looked at him and said “NO BE SO O”.
On another occasion, my little cousin was embarrassed while leaving the country whe he was asked how he got his visa, what process he went through and what was on the form he filled!!! Can you imagine a custom officer bombarding a 16yr old boy who is still a dependant on his parents with such stupefying questions, under the UK visa requirement a child at 16 can not apply for a visa by him or herself without the parents so how can this child know most of the process when his parents did everything and a lady custom officer said to him you failed the test but we will just let you go because you are still young and she said what did your mum give you to give us? The little boy in his apparent confusion and disgust gave them 100naira. This is absolute madness as well as blatantly unfair. And the President recently recited a catch-phrase which I’m afraid is far from the truth in Nigeria, “it's no longer business as usual”, as there have been many changes both structural and administrative.
This is not true I think we need to work together and fight against corruption because the airport officials treat us like aliens in our own country. I would end this by saying we need to flush the bad eggs out especially in this coming election, don’t loose hope that noting can be done or like my friends do say “only one person cant change the country so I cant waste my time” but they forget every little effort made matters. Refusal to comply with them is an effort in its own rights. The onus is on us to make life good for our children if not for us, NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE IF YOU BELIEVE AND ARE READY TO MAKE SACRIFICE.