While Nigeria continues its unending battle against corruption, it is becoming clearer that the harder the battle rages, the stronger the scourge of corruption becomes.
Like most of their colleagues elsewhere, security personnel across Nigeria’s international airports have become notorious for bribe taking. Officers of the Nigerian Immigration Service seem to be the worst culprits. Almost all travellers at the airport have sordid tales of extortion about them. Findings revealed that the situation has degenerated so badly that officers demand for bribe openly without recourse to shame or regard for their uniforms.
A Nigerian who flew in to enjoy the summer break in Nigeria with her Australian boyfriend told Street Journal that she regretted coming home. Narrating her ordeal at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, the young lady said “the immigration and security officers that are supposed to be protecting people are now beggars. They ask for tips and solicit for bribes openly. I regretted travelling to Nigeria with my Australian boyfriend this summer.”
A cousin of a prominent lawyer in the South West who flew in from the United States too disclosed that as soon as he was checked by immigration officers at the Lagos Airport, the man who stamped his passport at the point of entry asked if he was related to the lawyer. “As soon as I answered yes, he asked me ki le mu bo? (what did you bring for me?). Of course I answered him, to ba easy ni mi o ni lo ilu oyinbo lo maa sise (if its that easy, I won’t need to travel out to work.)”
A Nurse on her way to Saudi Arabia too disclosed to Street Journal that she was asked to “bring something” at the check-in counter just because she had some garri and yam flour in her luggage. “After threatening that the foodstuff would be thrown into the trash can, I asked the young lady what she wanted me to do and she said mummy, just give us something,” the woman who appeared to be in her sixties said. Speaking further, she said “I checked my bag and when I brought out a thousand Naira note, she said ah, mummy, that is not how to give somebody money here and she collected it quickly” The old Nurse also said “I told her I don’t know there was any other way to give someone money than the normal way.”
A reader who sent a comment stated that “one Florence B made life miserable for me on the 9th of August just because she saw me giving the trolley guy foreign currency and she asked me to give her. I was explaining why I gave the lady at the trolley section the money. She spent more than 45 minutes almost asking for a knife to cut my bag. One of the officers on stand had to talk to her.”
A young also told Street Journal that her sister was harassed at the check-in counter at the airport and asked to produce a BTA of $ 1,000 in cash or she would be stopped from travelling. He recalled that one of the officers demanded for a sum of N 15,000 if the lady could not produce the BTA.
While travellers continue to groan, all have concluded that the bribery at the airports in Nigeria has become legalised as the authorities have not done much to curb it.