By CALEB AYANSINA
ABUJA – The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has turned its searchlight on corruption-prone processes in visa acquisition.
The commission also warned those who are looking for visa to be careful of travel agents, that “usually hang around the vicinity of embassies with no fixed address.”
A statement signed, yesterday, by the Resident Consultant (Media/Events) to ICPC, Folu Olamiti, in Abuja, said the commission had recently arrested some culprits throughout the country, threatening not to spare seeker or any collaborators.
According to the statement, “Our investigations show that these agents usually make mouth-watering claims of procuring lucrative jobs, citizenships and academic placements abroad for clients in addition to procuring visas in record time.
“In some instances, they also state that their clients would not be required to physically appear for visa interviews at the embassies or High Commissions.
“These dubious agents and touts offer services which include facilitation for the acquisition of international passports, assistance in filling their clients’ details in online visa application forms and the provision of required support travel documents.
“These support documents are oftentimes forged and include cloned bank statements, birth certificates, fake or real admission letters from foreign schools and invitation letters for professional, religious and academic conferences; business concerns or from family and friends.
“These Agents invariably provide misleading and incorrect personal data including wrong addresses, next- of-kin for emergency contact, employment records, referees, etc
“These improper documentations, in this era of international terrorist activities, can lead to unintended hardships for their clients through discrepancies in data stored on their e-passport, driving licence, credit cards, school records and curriculum vitae.”
The Commission ” warned travellers, especially desperate young persons, seeking to undertake business, academic, leisure or medical trips abroad to be wary of using touts and dubious Travel Agencies in the procurement of visas.”
It further said that “travellers, agents and any collaborator in the Civil Service and embassies are liable to be arrested or sanctioned as anything that would compromise the process of transparent issuance of visas involving the use of cloned or fake Visa supporting official documents during applications.
“For avoidance of doubt intending travellers should contact reputable Travel Agencies, the Nigerian Immigration Service or embassies directly for clarification.”