ISIS: How FG, immigration rejects biometric visa service (Daily Trust (Nigeria))

There were fears that more terrorists may have entered Nigeria because the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have refused to adopt biometric visa identifications at embassies and entry points.

Islamic State (ISIS) Chief Ahmad Al-Assir was arrested in Lebanon recently trying to enter Nigeria after he secured a visa using a fake Palestinian passport.

According to an authoritative source, visa applicants in most countries are required to provide their biometric data and it takes over a week for authorities to carryout necessary checks before approval is given. Biometric processing of travellers was part of immigration control and provides means of tracking the arrival and departure of visitors.

A source at the Foreign Affairs Ministry said the Nigerian authorities haven’t adopted biometric visa processing systems as obtainable in about 14 countries including Canada, US, Brazil and Australia.

The source said a multinational firm; Bometrix Rica Limited had sent letters to the ministry and NIS sometime in March 2015 in which it indicated readiness to offer biometric services in Nigerian embassies free of charge. The system was meant to detect suspects.

But Nigerian authorities refused to accept the offer or adopt a similar technique in handling visa applications the source added.

A copy of the letter sent to the minister on March 13, 2014 signed by the company’s Country Director Ronalde Minaise, which a copy made available to Daily trust read in part: Our proposal is to provide the Federal Republic of Nigeria with a secure online and real-time system for a biometric visa issuance, in addition to that we shall supply install enroll produce in all your embassies, consulates, high commissions, federal airports and key border entries, all the systems at no cost.

Daly Trust obtained a similar proposal sent to the Comptroller-General of NIS in March 2015, almost a year later.

The company said it had provided similar services in DRC, Cape Verde, Ivory Coast, Burundi, Gabon, Benin, Togo, Sierra Leone, Senegal, the Gambia and Guinea.

Both the spokesman of the ministry Ogbole Amedu-Ode and that of NIS, Chukwuemeka Obuah could not be reached for comments.