Published On: Thu, Oct 12th, 2017

Senate Probes Alleged Questionable NIS Contracts, Rejects Immigration Budget Over Alleged Contract Scam

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…over 70 percent generated revenue claimed by Private firms

By Nuel Suji – The Senate has suspended passage of the 2017 budget proposal of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) accusing it of entering into a questionable contract agreement with private companies processing International Passport.

Even as the Red Chamber set up what it called a technical committee to investigate allegations of corruption in financial dealings of the firms.

The decision is sequel to a report submitted by the Senate Committee on Interior which revealed certain anomalies in its contractual agreement with NIS.

The document cited by our Correspondent revealed that 70 percent of revenue generated by the Service goes to the private firms that are engaged by NIS.

Investigation revealed that one of the companies that benefited from the questionable contract is named Iris Smart Technology Ltd, a Malaysian firm.

It was gathered that the contract was awarded in March 2007. It was further discovered that the e-passport project had gulped over N25bn in the past 10 years.

Presenting the Committee report for consideration, Senator Andy Uba said it was shocking that most of the contracts with service providers were “endless”.

He said there was the need for some of the contracts to be terminated.

“During the meeting, the committee observed that the service providers take away greater percentage (over 70 percent) of the revenue generated through the NIS facilities,” he said.

Another member of the Senate Committee on Interior, Senator Bayero Nafada said all efforts to get to the root of the phony contract arrangement proved abortive, adding that executives of the companies involved turned down invitations sent to them for explanations on the contracts.

“I can confirm to you that Immigration has endless agreement with some companies processing international passport,” Nafada said.

Also speaking on the report, Lagos west senator, Solomon Adeola lamented that the country “is in bondage”.

“Nigeria is in bondage. I tell you, sir, that the comptroller-general, not in confidence, but in the presence of all various stakeholders and partners said he is ready to take charge if given the necessary atmosphere but as it is, his hands are tied,” Adeola said.

“You find out that these various providers, there is one based in London, that one has never appeared before anybody before in Nigeria. We invited him several times but he refused to come.

“At the end of the day, when you look at the sharing formula, a certain amount of money goes straight to even the minister, ministry of interior every month. The one you have seen. The Nigerian Immigration Service which they have shared, that is why you have garbage in, garbage out asides what is coming from the central budget.”

In his reaction, Senate President, Bukola Saraki expressed dissatisfaction with percentage taken away by service providers saying the percentage is “ridiculous.”

He also wondered why the anti-graft agencies had not probed the agreements between the service providers and the federal government.

The Senate, however resolved to suspend the consideration of the report and set up a technical panel to look into the issues critically.

The technical committee mandated to investigate the issues comprise of chairmen and vice chairmen of Committees on Anti-corruption, judiciary and Interior to be headed by the Committee on Interior alongside Ministry Of justice, interior and Comptroller General of immigration and Economic Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) to investigate into revenue and expenditure of Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS)

The Committee is expected to report back in 2 weeks.

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