The Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) has cried out over what it describes as a staggering debt of $1.170 million (N233.13million) owed it by airlines operating at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, MMIA, Lagos within the first eight months of 2015.
The Comptroller of Immigration, MMIA Command, Mrs. Chizoba Dibi disclosed these to journalists in Lagos over the weekend.
Dibi regretted the impact of the massive debts of the airlines on the operations of the command, saying that all efforts to recover the debts had proved abortive.
There are no fewer than 30 commercial airlines that operate in and out of MMIA daily. This is apart from numerous private aircraft that operate into and out of the terminal daily.
She recalled that the former Minister of Interior, Mr. Aba Moro in two letters with the reference numbers: IMM/MMA/167A/XLVIII dated February 19, 2013 and ABJ/HQ/OPS/2029/53 dated April 26, 2013 had conveyed approval of the command to withdraw passenger clearance from the then highest debtor of carrier liability to serve as deterrent to other airlines.
She hoped that President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration would give the same approval to the command for it to recover all debts owed it by recalcitrant airlines.
As at end of August, 2015, Dibi explained that the command had processed 665,450 arriving passengers while 755,817 had departed the country through MMIA within the period.
She however added that the command had refused 353 Nigerians from departing the country while another 147 foreigners had been disallowed from gaining entry into the country.
Dibi revealed that 3,102 Nigerians have been deported between January and August, 2015 from various countries of the world for immigration offences.
The Comptroller further declared that 3,102 regular deportees Nigerians were received within the year and that it also received 508 special deportees while five foreigners were deported by the command within the period.
She added, “We however have challenges, which include, but not limited to inadequate space for our offices and even for passengers. Also, the cooling systems and power supplies have been inconsistent over the years in this command. We further require more funds for running the command.”