Immigration Officers in hot soup as Buhari probe granted visa to ISIS chief

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Top officials of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), including the Comptroller General, Mr. David Parrandang, are in serious trouble for providing relevant Nigerian travel documents to the ISIS chief, Ahmed Al Assir, wanted for war crimes, to visit Nigeria.

President Muhammadu Buhari has already waded into the matter and ordered full investigation into how the internationally acclaimed terrorist wanted by several governments was granted Nigerian visa in Lebanon to enter the country. Ahmed Al Assir was allegedly arrested at Lebanon Airport with a fake Palestinian passport and a Nigerian visa on his way to Nigeria through Egypt.

The judiciary in Lebanon accused the radical Muslim religious cleric of involvement in the death of 17 Lebanese solders and sentenced him to death. Sources in the State House disclosed that the Presidency was worried that clearance was not sought from higher officials before the cleric was granted the permission to enter the country and feared that the action of the Nigeria Immigration Service might send wrong signals to the international community, especially the United States on government’s avowed commitment to fight terrorism.

Officials of the NIS are at their wits end on how to explain their role in the matter to the Presidency, especially as personnel of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who were queried on how the visa was obtained by the cleric, absolved the ministry of blame. The Foreign Ministry explained that Nigerian embassies keep records of wanted persons around the world and pointed accusing fingers at the Immigration Service.

“The reported arrest of the wanted terrorist is a huge embarrassment to Nigeria and the President has directed that the matter should be investigated.

The embassy in Lebanon has been directed to furnish the ministry with details of how the man got the visa. The National Intelligence Agency officer has been directed to provide details of what happened,” a Foreign Affairs Ministry official said.

Investigations showed that top officials of the NIS have become desperate and are running from the pillar to post to salvage the situation and to down play the expected probe. A senior staff of the NIS disclosed at the Immigration Headquarters yesterday that as a result of this avoidable slip, Comptroller General Parrandang has planned major shakeup in the agency, specifically within the visa department where unusual activities, such as high level visa racketeering, take place. At least, 150 personnel would be reassigned in the visa departments across the country to serve as deterrent to future actions likely to embarrass the agency, the official said. Spokesman of the Immigration Service, Mr. CPP Obua, could not readily be reached at press time to comment on the matter as his phones were engaged when the lines were called.