Reps Probe Foreign Affairs Ministry, Missions Over Alleged Visa Racketeering, Maltreatment of Nigerians

10th May 2024

The House of Representatives has resolved to beam its searchlights on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and missions over alleged visa racketeering and maltreatment of Nigerians abroad.

This followed the adoption of a motion sponsored by Hon Ben Etanabene at a plenary session presided over by Speaker Tajudeen Abass.

Consequently, the House mandated its Committee of Foreign Affairs to probe into the issue and report back within three weeks.

Etanabene claimed that there was an urgent need for the House to wade into the issue since scores of Nigerians were illegally held or imprisoned in foreign countries and subjected to harsh conditions that might lead to the loss of their lives.

The lawmaker claimed that he was privy to several complaints regarding issues of employment in the ministry and missions, appointments, postings, redeployment and disciplinary issues that affect morals and service delivery.

He alleged that in a lot of foreign missions, the local staff ceiling has been exceeded due to violation of rules and in some instances, the ceiling of Foreign Service Officers, adding that this had further resulted in indebtedness in the respective missions.

Etanabene warned that if the issues were not investigated and appropriate and urgent actions taken by the House, it might lead to loss of lives and properties, further difficulties in visa and consular services home and abroad, malfeasance and waste, inefficiency and loss of revenue, poor implementation of the government reforms, 4Ds policy thrust.

The lawmaker said several modes of visa applications were in force, including express services with huge costs paid by applicants, who were sometimes denied visas after such payments.

Underscoring his initiative, he claimed: “Many Nigerian students are stranded in foreign land over issues that can be resolved and that many Nigerians owned businesses around the world helping in contributing to the economy of those countries and sending remittances back home are suffering harassment and sabotage.

“Many Nigerians go through extreme difficulties to secure visas for legitimate travels including Government Officials and Legislators after paying exorbitant visa fees.

“Embassies in a bid to ease visa application processes have resulted to outsourcing the processes to agents whose cost of services are born by Nigerians.”