Eighteen months after the suspension of the biometric visa-on-arrival fee by the Nigeria Immigration Service, SaharaReporters can authoritatively report that the service has re-introduced the controversial charges.
A source close to NIS confided in our correspondent on Monday that the service re-introduced the fee without publicity or informing impending travellers into the country of the new policy.
The fee is irrespective of the visa charges imposed on foreign travellers coming into the country, which varies from country to country.
When the same policy was first introduced on June 25, 2018, it caused chaos at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, and other international gateways across the country.
Apart from the $90 fee, foreigners were also compelled to pay additional $20 as service charge to the Federal Government through a concessionaire.
Information gathered by our correspondent indicated that the new policy of $90 biometric did not exempt the countries that Nigeria already has gratis with, as their citizens are equally compelled to pay the sum.
These are countries 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.
On the current policy, our correspondent sighted the slip of a traveller scheduled to arrive Nigeria later in the week and the charges include application fee of $160 and transaction charges; $20, thereby bringing the total charges to $270 per applicant.
Spokesperson for the NIS, Mr Sunday James, didn’t respond to calls made to his mobile line when contacted for comments by our correspondent.
The immigration source alleged that the implementation of the biometric was contradictory to the policy of government, which stated free visas on travellers on arrival.
The source purported that Comptroller-General of the NIS, Mr Muhammed Babandede, would retire within the year and intentionally introduced the $90 as a “parting shot”.
It was further learnt that application of any foreign traveller, who didn’t pay the $90 biometric fee would not be approved by the service.
The source said, “Our Comptroller-General would leave the service this year and the intention is to get a parting shot before he leaves, but unfortunately, the government is not looking into this this. Most of the travellers are not aware yet of this policy that the service is coming out with.
“Most travellers are only aware of the visa-on-arrival policy that is they either fill the form online and make payment there or get approval from their various countries to make payment when they arrive Nigeria. Three machines have already been procured for the biometric exercise by the service.”