Unfolding Nightmare At The Abuja Nigeria Immigration/National Identity Management Commission Office [PART I]
For as long as one can remember Nigerians have been plagued with poor customer service. One sees this day in day out across the board from when we go to say banks or cell phone providers just to mentioning a few. And while things are getting better in some cases in some they are not, and are actually getting worse.
It is especially infuriating that this lack of proper service occurs in some arms of the Government meant to set the standard when it comes to interaction with the citizenry. Case and point the Nigeria Immigration Service and National Identity Management Commission.
In the past spurred by countless complaints from customers, the Awareness has reported on some of their shortcomings. In June, we among others wrote about the NIS Owerri Office and the trials and tribulations people had to go through to obtain new and renew old passports. Subsequently, the NIS responded through its Public Relations Officer, Mr Cosmos Herbert saying it had streamlined the process and that the new look NIS has now been voted as one of the most improved agencies of government in terms of service delivery.
Well not according to one of our readers who wrote in after a nightmarish visit to the INS/NIMC Abuja office which left her not just traumatised, but so disappointed that she vowed to narrate the show of shame and hope that relevant bodies respond positively.
Let us first start with the FGN's recent directive that one must obtain a national identification number/card as a condition precedent to get an international passport. This has become a nightmare and has created a massive artificially created, but very realistic, bottleneck on both ends.
Our source who went to obtain her ID as stipulated repeatedly witnessed irresponsible officers verbally assaulting people as well as physically bullying others whose only crime is daring to step their unbefitting feet into the almighty office. Once you don't conform with their oft mindboggling demands, or dare question the modus operandi being deployed you are manhandled and tossed out of the gate.
"While those on foot are stopped and kept outside the Immigration Office gate directly under the elements, with neither shade nor shelter, others who come in cars do not fare much better - except of course you are a top gun.
"When you finally get to the makeshift shelter for those able to obtain a tally number, the immigration officers continue to harass and insult you to no end. While those without "conne" (connections) are frustrated outside, those with "conne" stroll in and out. Over and over officers come out and start weeding out and chasing away some of those already patiently waiting under the shade for their turn which seemingly never comes. There is no rhyme or reason nor is there any explanation given.
"They are herded like cattle outside again to the mercy of the stifling heat. Eventually they are unceremoniously told to disperse that closing time was incomprehensibly at 2 pm. Most of them having being there whole day, yet those who are willing to" play the game" still strolled in.
"They are are openly approached and are told that the "egunje" (kola nut money) to get you captured by the NIMC staff is 5k per person. It does not matter if you are one person or battalion, a giant or dwarf, man or woman - the justification remains the same namely - "we dey do returns"
This is contrary to the National Identity Management Commission's claim that clearly stipulates that the National ID is free and that nobody should pay a kobo for it. In fact the NIMC refers to this as fraud. (Click here) for that directive.
When our source approached some of the people who were roasting under the sun outside and asked why there was such a long queue she was told that they were all coming from various other Zone's in the FCT as the Immigration Office is the only centre for capturing for the National Identity card in the whole of the FCT which has a population of 3,278,000. Add to that the number of foreigners who also visit the office for visa-related issues and other immigration matters and you can envision the mayhem on the ground.
Sadly she also noticed that Nigerians are now so browbeaten that they don't even squirm, and take each and every assault in stride and generally just move on. Nobody wants to be tossed out on to the street for "being smart."
Bearing all of this in mind, it is time for the EFCC and ICPC to beam their searchlights on the Immigration Service and their National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) counterpart. The FGN should hurriedly identify and get rid of the the rotten apples as well as unbundle the current arrangement to reduce the hardship being perpetrated on its citizens and stop this lingering show of shame
Related: International Day Of The Disappeared: Nigeria Responsible For More Than Half Of Africa's 44,000 Missing People
STAY TUNED FOR PART II