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House Of Reps Begins Three-Week Probe Of Huge Visa Costs, Exploitation Of Nigerians

The Nigerian House of Representatives on Thursday mandated its Committee on Foreign Affairs to carry out a holistic investigation into the activities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its missions.



The House lamented that several Nigerians are subjected to untold hardship outside the country while several others are serving jail terms under harsh conditions.



This followed a motion of urgent public importance brought before the House and adopted by lawmaker, Ben Etanabene, PDP-Delta, during plenary in Abuja on Thursday.



Etanabene, while moving the motion asserted that the government had set in motion reforms for effective service delivery in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, parastatals, agencies and missions. Expressing concern that the House had taken several steps to ensure that the reforms and policy thrust of the ministry came to fruition for the good of the country.



He said in spite of the efforts of the House, Nigerians around the world were faced with a general and urgent Consular Services Challenge.



According to him, many Nigerians are illegally held or imprisoned in foreign countries and often under harsh conditions that may lead to loss of lives if urgent actions are not taken.



“Many Nigerians go through extreme difficulties to secure visas for legitimate travels including government officials and legislators after paying exorbitant visa fees.”



He said embassies in a bid to ease visa application processes had resorted to outsourcing the processes to agents whose cost of services was borne by Nigerians.

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The lawmaker said several modes of visa applications were in force including express services with huge costs paid by applicants who are sometimes denied visas after such payments.



He said the Ministry in addition to budgetary allocations, benefited from intervention funds, for running the affairs of the ministry and missions as well as the internally generated revenue by several of its missions.



Etanabene said the committee received several complaints regarding issues of employment in the missions, appointments, postings, redeployment and disciplinary issues that affect morals and service delivery.


He added that a lot of local staff ceilings in some missions had been exceeded due to violation of rules and in some instances, the ceiling placed on the number of Foreign Service Officers. Which, he said had further resulted in indebtedness in the respective missions.



However, the House mandated the Committee on Foreign Affairs to carry out a holistic investigation and report back to the House within three weeks.


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