NEW information reaching nigerianflightdeck.com indicates that the unnecessary delay of some athletes from Kenya, Burundi and other African countries on arrival in Nigeria is as a result of the inability of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) of the Athletics Championship to make arrangements for the athletes easy passage.
Reports were rife of late that the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos Command seized the passport of and caused unnecessary delay of some athletes who were to be involved in the 2018 African Senior Athletics Championship, in Asaba, Delta State.
Further investigation has however revealed that the athletes actually entered Nigeria without money to pay for their Visas on arrival, a requirement needed to access the country’s gateway if coming to acquire the visa in Nigeria.
Contrary to reports, nigerianflightdeck.com also learnt from a source that the Local Organising Committee (LOC) failed to make arrangement for payment into Nigeria through online visa payment before their arrival, this led to their delay at the Lagos Airport.
A highly placed source in Abuja explained to our correspondent today that a lot of the athletes ought to have processed their Visas online and make payments before arriving Nigeria, but failed to so, a situation, which led to their temporary delay at the airport.
The immigration source insisted that the command did not seize any of the athletes’ passports, but only collected them for issuance of sticker Visas on their passports, which was necessary for them to enter the country.
The Visa on arrival policy by Nigeria commenced in 2012 with some countries, but came into full stream in 2017 with the Ease-of-Doing-Business policy of Federal Government, which was introduced in 2017.
The new policy ushered out the era of immigration officers collecting cash payment from foreign tourists or travellers coming into the country came to an end. Payments are now made online for prospective travelers into Nigeria.
At the Lagos Airport, it was gathered that the technical partner of immigration, New Works had to issue each and every one of the athletes ID and reference numbers, which is always cumbersome because of internet connectivity.
This was done immediately the payments were made by the representatives of the athletes.
The source insisted that immigration at the Lagos Airport were not responsible for the delay on arrival of the athletes to Asaba, Delta State, stressing that the officers carried out their duties professionally as expected from them.
The source said: “A lot of them came in at once and none of them could pay for visa on arrival, which is a policy of the Federal Government. As you know, we don’t collect cash at immigration any longer. The local organising committee was not able to make the payment because it did not make enough preparation towards their arrival into Nigeria. They all came at once and New Works, which is our technical partner had to generate ID and reference number for each and every one of them to make the payment easier.
“But, as they were not able to generate the payment, instead of delaying them and keep them at the airport until when the payment is done, we collected their passports so that when the payment is done, we put the visas and stickers on their passports and return it to the organising committee. We allowed them to come in, but collected their passports for sticker visas because if their passports were with them, there was no way we would have put the Visas on their individual passports.”
This policy had eased the rigours experienced by travellers coming into Nigeria and also increased the number of tourists into the country by 30 per cent in the first half of 2018 when compared to the same period in 2017.