There was chaos at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, on Monday as the new immigration policy of $90 caught many foreigners arriving the country unawares.
The new policy imposes an additional $90 on foreigners arriving the country as Biometric Visa-On-Arrival charge, apart from the visa fees they had already paid in their respective countries before embarking on the journey to Nigeria.
The new policy was supposed to have taken effect on June 11, 2018, but was shifted by another two weeks for unknown reasons.
Foreigners were also compelled to pay additional $20 as service charge to the Federal Government through the concessionaire that the service was concessioned to.
At the airport, many travellers who were unaware of the new policy were stranded and were not allowed to pass through the immigration counters until they had paid the $90.
Some of them later used their credit cards for the payment of the two sums, while others had to pay the money through their agents or companies in Nigeria.
For instance, South Africans paid the sum of $58 as visa fee for Nigeria in their country, but were still compelled to pay the sum of $90 as biometrics and additional $20 for processing on arrival at Lagos Airport.
The new policy of $90 of biometric did not exempt the countries that Nigeria already has gratis with, as their citizens were equally compelled to pay the sum. These are counties where citizens don’t pay for visa before visiting Nigeria because of the reciprocity agreement between the two countries.
Some of the countries with gratis with Nigeria include Mauritius, Barbados, Dominica, Fiji Island and Haiti.
There was a huge complaint from many of the travellers or their representatives in Nigeria who said they were not informed of the new policy, as there was no enlightenment campaign by the service.
When SaharaReporters visited one of the arriving lounges at Lagos Airport, it was observed that when Emirates Airlines arrived the country from Diubai, immigration officials at the terminal were helpless as the service had been concessioned to a concessionaire.
An immigration source told our correspondent that the collection of the sum on visa-on-arrival was taken away from immigration and handed over to a private firm about a year ago in the name of Ease-of-Doing-Business policy of the Federal Government, which came on stream last June.
The source said: “This is a real fraud by this concessionaire. How can you impose additional $90 as biometrics on foreigners coming into the country? Most of these foreigners have already secured their visas before coming here and you still impose additional charges on them. Apart from this $90, they still pay another $20 as processes. What are they processing?
“This so called Ease-of-Doing-Business is being hijacked and it’s turning to hardship on the people. The biometric is unnecessary as this had already been done with their finger prints on issuance of international passports in their respective countries. Or is Nigeria saying they don’t trust the systems in some of these countries?
“As it is now, immigration officials at all entry points are just observers in the entire process while the concessionaires collect the sum and put it into a dedicated account. Some of the travellers especially from South Africa paid $58 as visa fee in their country and were still compelled to pay the sum of $90 as biometrics and additional $20 for processing on arrival in Lagos."
Besides, a source close to immigration confided in our correspondent that the scarcity of Nigerian international passport in recent times s because the passport is now being produced in Malaysia, rather than the country as was the practice in the past.
According to the source, the new system began the moment the printing of the international passport was taken away from immigration and concessioned to a private firm.