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Senate to probe $2, 000 resident permit fee, Immigration revenues

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Senate on Wednesday declared its readiness to carry out thorough investigation into the alleged arbitrary hike in the resident permit fee being charged by the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS from $1,000 to $2,000; noting that such action had affected foreign direct investment in the country.

This is even as the upper legislative chamber threatened to sanction some revenue generating agencies of the federal government with zero allocations if their chief executives fail to appear before its joint Committees on Finance, and National Planning to defend their positions as contained in the 2021-2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper, MTEF/FSP after being duly invited.

Specifically, the Senate vowed to probe the contract entered into by the Ministry of Interior with a foreign firm, Continental Transfert Technique Limited, CONTEC for combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Alien Card, CERPAC, which has been robbing the nation billions of Naira on yearly basis since 2007.

The entire members of the joint Committee on Finance, and National Planning, were irked with submissions made by the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, Mohammed Babandede that CONTEC through the lopsided contract agreement, cornered a whopping N15billion out of N20 billion realised in 2018 and N23billion out of N40billion realised in 2019.

Babandede has said that the Service “is already discussing with the Ministry of Justice for necessary advice on the legal implications of the upward review of the resident permit fee from $1, 000 to $2, 000.”

The Comptroller General added that the ministry is also looking at the modalities to pull out of arrangement.

He said the Immigration officers are not preventing Contec from collecting permit fee from expatriates as being alleged, adding however, that “if there are cases where some NIS officers are blocking them, it is a good idea because Contec is not doing the country any good.”

“Nobody should defend the company which took Nigeria to court and wanted to seize our properties including our mission and NNPC building.

“They took us to the United Kingdom arbitration court where we were forced to pay N8billion. As far as we are concerned, this company has no value for Nigeria. What they are doing is the job the NIS could do better.

But the chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Solomon Adeola (APC Lagos West), while reacting to issue as explained by the Comptroller General, stressed the need for a thorough investigation after enough information might have been gathered and after the consideration of MTEF/FSP documents.

Adeola added that the committee would also probe the revenue sources of the NIS.

His counterpart in the Committee on National Planning, Senator Ayo Akinyelure (APC Ekiti North) had alleged that the NIS officials were frustrating the activities of Contec by preventing them collecting accurate fee from the expatriates as residents permit,.

He said: “We have more than 15 million immigrants in the country. As we speak only less than 20 per cent of the figure are being captured the consultants because the NIS officials are frustrating them from capturing many of them.

“They are collecting money through backdoor from them. We need to invite the Minister of Interior, the consultants and the NIS.”

Also, Senator Aisha Binani (APC Adamawa Central), recalled that the resident permit for non Nigerians started with $350 and later jumped to $700 per person.

“From then, it jumped to $1, 000 and finally to $2, 000. There is no fix rate for the naira. Most of the foreigners earned their income in naira here because there is a ban on the payment of dollar to expatriate.

“If they earn their pay in naira and they pay resident permit in dollar. The official exchange is N380 to $1,” she stressed.

Meanwhile, some of the agencies threatened with zero allocations include the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority, Executive Vice Chairman of Nigeria Communication Commission, Executive Secretary of Nigeria Shippers Council, and the Director General of Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency.

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