Kelvin Osa Okunbor
Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) said it denied 24 passengers boarding at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos because they failed to meet travel requirements.
The Comptroller NIS, Murtala Muhammed Airport Command, Abdulahi Usman who disclosed this in an interview on Tuesday said the passengers; most of who are females besides not meeting the travel requirements had no valid reasons for their proposed trip.
Usman said the affected passengers have been handed over to the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) for further interrogation and investigation to ascertain if they were victims of trafficking.
He said: “From the first day of March till now, we have refused about 24 passengers travelling out of the country because they don’t have visible means of living and the Nigeria Immigration Service requirement for travelling out of the country is not adhered to and many of them are ladies and 24 were refused and handed over to National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons
“The issue is that someone is travelling to a country and they don’t know where they are going to, you ask they are going for a visit; whom are they visiting? No reason, no evidence of who they are visiting and so we now think, if someone is going out of this country and they have no idea of where they are going to, most likely it’s a human trafficking issue we now refer them to National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons.”
In a related development, investigations reveal that the number of foreigners coming into the country using the Visa on arrival window has dipped.
This is connected to the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic currently rocking the entire world as incoming passengers slated to get visas have reduced significantly since January.
Investigations reveal that Visa on arrival which in December was over one thousand applications and issuance reduced in January and further declined in February.
Usman while confirming this said: “The numbers of our guest coming in has reduced that is the effect of the COVID -19 we have seen, the number have reduced. For example In December we had over one thousand plus, in January we had over 400 plus that arrived and in February we have about 250 you can see the difference so those are the reduction and we were able to trace it to the corona virus and not even foreigners alone, even our citizens the number, the influx has reduced too, the activities of the airport in terms of passenger movement has reduced. NIS is not a revenue service but it also translates to loss of revenue too.”
On how the service at the airport has fared at the nation’s airport, he said: “We are already lucky because we have port health services among us and that is where we got the impact of synergy, the Port Health service sensitizes us on what we are expected to do in this kind of situation and the hand held equipment given to us and from time to time we receive expert advice from the Port Health.”