Nigeria Diasporas And Bribery Of Custom Officials At Lagos MMA By Paul Omoruyi

By Paul Omoruyi

In the next couple of weeks, thousands of Nigerians who travelled home to celebrate the holidays with their friends and families will be returning back to the United States, Europe, Asia and everywhere in-between.

Anyone who has travelled internationally in and out of Lagos Murtala Mohammed Airport (MMA) will agree with me that sometimes it could be very challenging to deal with the Nigerian Custom officials. I have gone through the hullaballoo experience every year in the last seven years and have a fair share of the tumultuous and disdainful encounter.

By the way, last year, I celebrated my third year of consciously and decidedly not giving any form of bribe to Nigerian Custom officials. Before then, I have had to give money to them to check-in my luggage that contain “allowable African Food” products like ground Pepper, Melon, Egusi, Crayfish. To them, I needed to “pay” to carry those items in the checked-in luggage.

As a frequent flyer, I am all too familiar with prohibited items on commercial international flights for carry-on and checked-in luggage’s. The rules for carry-on items of liquid and gel, food, guns and firearms, incendiary devices, checked baggage, sporting equipment, sharp objects are publically available either on the airline’s website or the Nigeria Customs Service’s site.

Knowing all the tricks the customs officials used to extort money from unsuspecting and naïve travelers, I made the decision in 2009, that I will not give money as a form of “bribe” to any Nigerian Custom official going forward. That, I thought, will be my two cents contribution toward not perpetuating bribery and corruption in Nigeria.

So, for the first time, I paid the bribe-free drive price in 2010. After five custom officials at the Lufthansa Airline desk have gone through a gruesome search of my luggage (only God knows why such a search requires five men. I think it is a waste of man power and time anyway!), they wanted me to “give them something” because one of the items was not “labeled”. I asked if I can label it right there since I have a pen on me. They indicated they have no time for that. I can either throw it away or give them “something” to carry it.

Bluntly, I told them I will prefer to throw it away because I have nothing to give to them to carry the item. My relative who was watching started pleading with me to give them something so I can “carry my thing go”. I refused and took out the product and gave it to my relative to take it back even though I spent so much money to buy the items.

That was my first bribe-free sacrifice and a promise that I have kept in the last three years even though some friends and relatives think I am crazy.

This is also the call I want to make to all Nigerian Diasporas travelling back from their vacation this year and going forward. We, as a people, cannot be clamoring to end bribery and corruption in Nigeria while we are perpetuating it ourselves by this seemingly little things. It is a simple concept: If you have no will to change it, then you have no right to criticize it! So Diasporas please STOP GIVING AIRPORT CUSTOM OFFICIALS BRIBES!

To facilitate this, I will provide some strategies I have adopted to avoid offering bribe to Nigeria Custom officials at the MMA:

1. Ensure you do not carry prohibited items. Read your airline baggage and carry-on policies or go to Nigeria Custom Service site for prohibited items and rules.

2. Arrive at the airport very early to check-in your luggage so you have time to go through the dehumanizing encounter with the custom officials. When they know you are running late, they will use delay tactics to extort you. Sometimes, they will say “we need to send you upstairs to see our boss for further processing. It will take you another 30 minutes or 1 hour for that processing; otherwise just settle us here”. So watch out when they want to play that game.

3. Make sure you label any item you carry. If necessary, use transparent plastic to wrap your items.

4. If you have a relative with you at the airport, let them stick around until you have checked in. If for any reason the custom officials come up with the game of throwing away something, simply give it to your relative to take back home.

5. Control your emotions when they speak to you unprofessionally, impolitely and condescendingly. Some lack professional training and others do it just to stir up an opportunity to get you agitated for extortion.

6. Respond with “yes sir or yes m'am” when they instruct you or ask you a question. They tend to treat you with more restrain when you display some form of sophistication and civility that is eccentric to them.

We must all pay the price to make Nigeria a better place. This requires telling the inconvenient truth and taking the pains that goes with it. Let me know of your experience with Nigeria Custom officials at MMA that you would like to share!

I wish all Nigerians home and abroad a Happy New Year. May God bless Nigerians and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Blog: www.diasporascope.com

Email: eng.p.omoruyi@gmail.com

 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

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It was this same customs

It was this same customs officials that asked me to go to the minister of education and collect a written note before i could travel out of the country for studies and i wondered why the minister of Education must know of my travelling out to study outside naija .......imagine..... well am coming back for the bastard that took $1000 from me at the MMA.... she and her cohorts will pall me in full with interests involved... i swear or am gonna make life miserable for them on my return to Nigeria.....

irony

There was a Paul Omoruyi that resigned from customs in the late 2000, he owns one of the famous eatery in egbeda He was a jolly fellow.

I travel to Nigeria an

I travel to Nigeria an average of two times a year. I have never bribed any official at the airport. I made that conscious decision years ago that I will not be bribe nor support any form of bribery. I remain polite and I also categorically state, "I am sorry, I don't believe in "giving you something" to take what the law allows me to. If it is illegal to take something, please let me know, and I will not take that "something" Their reaction has always been "abeg make she commot" I've been stressed beyond belief, but I've always stood my ground. "No bribes"

Too many civil servants at mma

Thank you vey much. I always ask that question too.

If you think MMA is bad, try Abuja!

The local airport they call "international" in Abuja is even worse intros of their demands and the gauntlets you have to go through! Ad when you are through, you find out there is no "duty free" area to even buys drinks to quench your thirst and annoyance!
Having said all of that, I pointedly invite military escorts with me when going to check in and out of that country! They hate it, more so, the per-check in baggage handlers and check-in crew are generally part of the scam.
Coming into the country, you also have to make the conscious decision not to give. My worst exit was a couple some years ago when I decided to exit with a 5 litre keg of palm wine. You would have thought I was carrying contraband, but I had my way eventually by politely blowing a lot of dogonturanchi, producing the list of internationally proscribed items and allowing my time to be wasted!

Zero Tolerance

I have a personal zero tolerance for giving any form of bribe. I take what I know is legal and will gladly tip any item in the bin. This corruption goes to the top.It is a syndicate entrenched at most points of entry.
If we ever have to compete with Accra as partof an ECOWAS open skies agreement then MMIA will suffer.

You nailed It Mr. Paul Omoruyi

You just made my day. I am not sure if you read comments on your write ups. But pls if you do, can you open a forum on your blog site where we all can put ideas together to fight this miasma and have our voices heard? God bless you sir for speaking for thousands of Nigerians who go through this everyday!!!

hidden camera

Custom barawos, I will be passing through mma sometime this month and I am prepared for you. Every step I take from and through customs will be recorded. Should any goro chewing WAYO Nigerian custom animal misbehave, he/she will be exposed and then sued. My adopted government , till my land secedes from Nigeria is willing and will support me in my fight against corruption by atiku's kinsmen.

Over Bloated Civil Service

How come there are so many government employees at our international airports, most obviously standing or sitting around idly? Jobs for the boys right?

CBN Governor Sanusi was indeed right that the Nigerian evil, sorry, civil service is in need of massive culling!!!!

More dignifying for foreigners than Nigerians in Nigeria's airpo

One is always afraid when flying out from or entering into Nigeria's airports. Anti narcotic agents would by a mere look on your face and your name subject you to X-ray for drugs while your flight is about to take off. I have experienced it twice; but in my life, I have never touched any hard drug. These officials tend to do tribal profiling, and they do not give the damn about the cost of one X-ray to government, as well as the possible ill effects on the X-rayed traveler, all done in the name of extorting money. They do not seem to have any intelligence gathering mechanism to arrest drug peddlers.
As for the search and extortion by Customs, that one is very shamefully done in the glare of foreigners, some of whom foreigners even pity Nigerian travelers who are all assumed by their country men and women as offenders.
But who can be our ombudsman? Who can stop this, when corruption has apparently eaten deep into the hearts of many public officials?

Corruption by Custom Officials at Airports.

The shameless bastard customs and quarantine officers went to the extent of insisting sharing from the fish my wife was taking to Europe before she would be allowed.
This lady officer took half of the fish home to eat with her family. I wished it was possible to poison her portion of the fish, clear her family and that will teach other Nigerian officials a lesson. I hate them all with my heart. They are no human beings.
Thanks Mr Omoruyi for your suggestions. However even when you go according to the rules as set out in the customs instructions regarding allowable African foods, they will hate you more and try to inflict pain on you one way or the other for having the effrontery to deny them their source of bribery.

NIgeria in Diapsorans and Bribery

I totally agree with you and i went through similar experience the last time i visited home. if nigerians in diaspora will genuienely and passionately adhere to this policy of no bribe given at the airport it will go a long way in addressing the issue of corruption at all levels of government. As we all know corruption is endemic title that has permeated the entire fabric of our society.

MMA officials unprofessional activities.

Have a look at this link http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1eTwEPXo2RU it will throw more light on the despicable situation at MMA. It is time all Nigerians make effort to stop the evil of bribery and corruption. At least let us all make similar commitment not to perpetuate the evil. Let us start by making such personal choice. We may not be able to change the entire country but we have the power to change ourselves .
Happy new year to all fellow Nigerians.

Sting and Nail some of them ...

Wear a video and audio wire, sting and then post them on-line!
That way we name and shame the rogues amongst them - for real!
If they are determined, they will look for some other reason to screw folks ... anything from fake passport, drug suspect, undeclared currency etc etc
EFCC should case the joint for a few days ... will give their corruption campaign a big boost!

NDLEA

the writer forget to mention the NDLEA guys in the name of drugs they will scater your luggage as if it doesn't belong to anyone, i was once asked by probably the same customs how much was in my possession, my reason of traveling endless questions cos i refuse to give bribe, nigerians stop giving them bribe resist them politely as the writer rightly said

Thank you Paul. On my way

Thank you Paul. On my way back to my base last year the Customs subjected me to similar treatment. I remember this old Custom Lady asking me such irrelevant questions and I kept saying Yes/No Madam. at the end she got fed up with me and shoved my Passport at me with a 'wash down look.' I quickly moved along. Only Nigerians can change Nigeria. God is NEVER going to change anything we aren't ready to change. God is not mocked.

Na you send me?

It is people like you that are messing up Nigeria.

When would good things start coming out of Nigeria?

When would good things start coming out of Nigeria?,definately after Jonathan,may be during Buhari!.This government has lost control,everything goes.

I won't forget Nigeria during NSO(Nigeria Security Organisation),War Against Indiscipline etc.

It happened to me as well.

Back in 2004, was my first time of traveling out of the country.on getting to the airport,my bag was checked in and will have to pass through the barrage of different type of uniform men and scanning machine.At the other end i was picked up by drug and enforcement-law officer who questioned me for over 20minutes,took me down-stair flattened me on there scanning machine ,the machine cleared me.Initially i was a bit scared of all what he was doing to me,but later i was made to know by my friend that works in airport as well that it was just a psyche,because of my size and the way i dressed that day made him to hand pick me.The most gruesome of it all was ,he took £150 from £300 i was traveling with that day threatening to delay or cause me to miss my flight. Narrated my ordeal to my host that time,i was told i have been duped and ever since then i have made a vow not to give them anything in that airport and i have stocked to my resolution in all my subsequent travelings.

It happened to me as well.

Back in 2004, was my first time of traveling out of the country.on getting to the airport,my bag was checked in and will have to pass through the barrage of different type of uniform men and scanning machine.At the other end i was picked up by drug and enforcement-law officer who questioned me for over 20minutes,took me down-stair flattened me on there scanning machine ,the machine cleared me.Initially i was a bit scared of all what he was doing to me,but later i was made to know by my friend that works in airport as well that it was just a psyche,because of my size and the way i dressed that day made him to hand pick me.The most gruesome of it all was ,he took £150 from £300 i was traveling with that day threatening to delay or cause me to miss my flight. Narrated my ordeal to my host that time,i was told i have been duped and ever since then i have made a vow not to give them anything in that airport and i have stocked to my resolution in all my subsequent travelings.

It happened to me as well.

Back in 2004, was my first time of traveling out of the country.on getting to the airport,my bag was checked in and will have to pass through the barrage of different type of uniform men and scanning machine.At the other end i was picked up by drug and enforcement-law officer who questioned me for over 20minutes,took me down-stair flattened me on there scanning machine ,the machine cleared me.Initially i was a bit scared of all what he was doing to me,but later i was made to know by my friend that works in airport as well that it was just a psyche,because of my size and the way i dressed that day made him to hand pick me.The most gruesome of it all was ,he took £150 from £300 i was traveling with that day threatening to delay or cause me to miss my flight. Narrated my ordeal to my host that time,i was told i have been duped and ever since then i have made a vow not to give them anything in that airport and i have stocked to my resolution in all my subsequent travelings.

On the Right Track, Mr. Omoruyi

Like you Mr. Omoruyi, I do not give any Nigerian official (Customs, Police, Army, Navy, etc.) the opportunity on my way in or out of Nigeria to engage in these shameful acts with me. I travel to Nigeria annually and I do my darndest to avoid carrying any food items. Someone already posted that which is self-evident -- that those food items are practically sold in every country, city or towns where Nigerians live. I had the Customs people ask me for "something for the boys" at MMIA II in August on my way out of Nigeria. My retort was to look at them and ask what they were talking about.

In 2011, a policeman stopped me and a friend in Lagos and wanted me to produce the receipt for my laptop. I asked him why I should do that. He looked at me and since he could not figure out who I was, he took to begging for something. i told him that he was being paid by the government for the work (if any) he was doing. That was the end of the conversation.

You are part of the bad eggs in that country

You are part of the bad eggs in that country,So if the economy is bad,that's a yardstick for you to perpetuate corruption. Let them give you money from their own free will not using position to extort money or bribe from anyone.render you services diligently and earn your salary.then nigerian can be a better place.

Custom Extortions

Most of the time if i travel, i do inform my friends who are custom officers or NDLEA guys to escort me to the airport and also wait for me on arrival. I have never parted away with any money. In a situation where u don't have anyone , then stick to Paul's advise . It will pay off the airport mess being enforced by Custom officers in Nigeria .

Haba - Oga Omoruyi !!

Oga sir, abeg take am easy for boys. Na bad economy cause dey wahala. Man must "wack" ! As you be Omo Yankee, make you dey try drop for your boys as na we dey here for Lagos, no leave, no transfer, no shaking,

Dat small dollar wey remain for your pocket as you dey headup Yankee, e no kill you to leavam for ya people, make we dey "manage small small".

More blessings for your side !

I agree entirely with your

I agree entirely with your submission and you may wish to know I have been doing this myself for the past couple of years. My experience and approach has been quite similar to yours and it DOES WORK.

Nigeria is a jungle.

Unfortunately this shameful activity is still going on in Nigeria 6 yrs later. As a first time air traveler going to Eastern Europe to study in 2006. The immigration officers asked for my BTA (2,000 Euros which I intended to use in paying school fees and living in hard Eastern Europe where foreign students aren't allowed to work). Their offer to me was to settle them or be purposely held up, made to miss my flight and have to pay another 700 Euros for ticket cost. I refused and they held me till 10mins before my flight, forcing me to give them 300 Euros. God knows how this made me and my widow mom suffer to recover this difference. Since then I am now almost a graduate in Aviation management and have passed through airport securities in Europe and USA with even more than $5,000; plenty of times and have never been subjected to that kind of experience. Nigeria is really a Jungle. SMH. I pray to God to change my citizenship to one of these countries that really care about their people.

customs and us

Thanks Paul, I have a solution to all this custom problems. Stop carrying food stuff they can be bought in every country nigerian lives now. My concern is the attitude of the Immigrations they know when people travelled the most and decide to open very few counters and thereby causing a log jam, that is not acceptable the authority should do something about it.

Its shameful and outragous.

MMIA is not the only airport this shameful act is perpetrated in Nigeria.
Nnamdi Azikiwe International,Abuja,Port Harcourt International Airport are
all heaven for the thieves.You need to see how those Foreigners stand aside to watch the despicable act.They laugh and ridicule everything Nigeria.No wonder Nigeria has the enviable position of the most corrupt
country on Earth.

thank you Paul for sharing

thank you Paul for sharing your strategies, it should go a long way to help those who are willing to fight corruption in Nigeria. like you said we cannot be criticizing some Nigerians and then bribe airport officials just to make our check ins and check outs easier and expect Nigeria to be a better country. it is the people that need to change and it is done one person at a time until the majority of the country is bribe free. God help Nigerians