Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has concluded plans to rejig clearance procedures at international airports in the country.
This it said will see both arriving and departing passengers undergo seamless facilitation when international flights resume.
Part of the new measures include enhanced collection of passengers biometric data and other travel information which will now be mandatory for both arriving and departing passengers.
To achieve the new regime, the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) Command of NIS has commenced training of its personnel on the new operational procedures and guidelines for seamless passenger facilitation.
Comptroller of MMIA Command, Musa Usman who disclosed this to The Nation said the COVID-19 pandemic will alter clearance procedures at airports and other border control posts necessitating vigilance and inter- agency collaboration among personnel to reduce physical contact with passengers and other measures crucial to curbing the spread of the pandemic.
He said officers of NIS will interface foreign carriers to pick passengers manifest for clearance ahead of arrival and departure procedures.
He spoke at a COVID-19 Pandemic Sensitization Lecture for officers of the MMIA command.
Besides, he said the new regime of clearance will not allow for the use of protocol officers of Very Important Persons (vIPs)for their clearance procedures as such persons must undergo MIDAS and fingerprints collection by themselves.
He said the NIS in partnership with the airport authority will construct Small cubicles where passports will be slotted for both arriving and departing passengers to avoid any physical contact.
Usman said NIS as the frontline organisation at the airport will continue to work with other agencies to escalate new guidelines rolled out by relevant aviation and health authorities to accelerate emerging trends in border control procedures and processes at airports.
Usman said that in preparation to embrace the new normal the NIS MMIA is sensitizing on the new routines as airports operations will never be the same again.
“Our operations at the airport will never be the same again and we have done this deliberately involving all stakeholders as NIS does not work in isolation and facilitation is an entire process involving a lot of people and agencies.
He stressed the need to strategize on how to ensure seamless clearance and facilitation in this COVID-19 pandemic.
Also speaking, Assistant Comptroller General NIS, Zone A, Lagos, Mohammed Alfa said for the men and officers of the command to tackle COVID-19, they needed to be disciplined individually and collectively while doing their jobs diligently.
Alfa said officers who are operating at the airport must abide by set rules and regulations stating that discipline is the only way to enable the organization with such huge staff strength of over 25,000 to maintain cohesion and direction.
He said : “For us to succeed, for us to be able to attack COVID-19, then all of us as individuals and collectively will have to be disciplined. Self discipline collective discipline and by the time we do that the protocols become very easy for us to comply with. We are talking about simple rules and regulations.
“We are talking about people not engaging themselves in impersonation, when you have self discipline you will not engage in that, you know it’s wrong.”
He commended Usman for the initiative aimed at sensitizing and galvanizing staff in preparation to recommence operations post COVID-19.
He said: “We interact with diplomats, we interact with government officials, we also interact with other agencies and what we have seen today is wonderful, we have virtually all the security agencies operating at the airport here with us. In addition to all of this, we issue sensitive security documents, like I said earlier we issue visas, we also issue passports to deserving Nigerians. We are also involved in the issuance of passports and other travel documents.
“If you have this core mandate if you have to be able to perform actively, especially where you have a population of over 25,000 staff strength there must be a mechanism for control of all of these people, there must be a structure, there must be rules, there must be dos and don’ts. Where you are able to apply them, you are able to achieve your set goals, where you are not able to apply them then there is a problem.”
The immigration comptroller said discipline remains the abiding guidelines of NIS, stating that discipline means strict adherence to the rules and regulations on how workers are expected to cooperate and behave in an ethical and normal way.”
Regional Manager South West Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mrs. Victoria Shinaba said the airport comptroller for carrying everyone along while stating that the airport authority was already doing everything to ensure smooth facilitation come resumption of international flights.
“It good we all have to understand and be on the same page because passenger facilitation involves a long list of people from Immigration, Port Health, Aviation Security, Directorate of Security Services, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) all working towards seamless facilitation.
She said the Airport authority has provided cubicles for each immigration booth and have done markings to enable social distancing stating that the process is not just at the gate but from outside the terminal.