LBW

Monday, 26 January 2015

Father Married Daughter In British Passport Scam!



IT is a well-known fact that many Nigerians are daily migrating abroad in search of the proverbial greener pasture. Usually, the reasons prompting this act range from economic to sheer adventure. Interestingly, this fact has come to be accepted as the inevitable fallout of the country's dwindling fortunes. What is spectacular, however, is the length and 'ingenuity' some of these travellers adopt to achieve their aim.

Take the case of 54-year-old Jelili Adesanya, who reportedly married his own daughter just to get her a British visa. Having lived in the UK for more than 30 years and in possession of a British Passport, Adesanya reportedly married his daughter, Karimotu Adenike, in a fake wedding ceremony in Lagos in 2007. The scheme was that his 'supposed wife,' after having been duly granted permission to live in the UK, would divorce her father and remarry her real husband to also get him visa alongside their four sons to join her in the UK.

Luck, however, ran out on father and daughter, as the scam was exposed by one of Adesanya's workers at the Immigrations office in the UK.

In another development, the Nigeria Police Special Fraud Unit, Milverton, Ikoyi, Lagos smashed a group that specialises in smuggling desperate Nigerians to the United States of America.

According to reports, members of the group usually match-make their preys with confirmed winners of the America visa lottery. Thereafter, the new couples journey to the States as husbands and wives.

The incident, which blew open the whole scam, as reported in 2013, involved a male schoolteacher and a female prey from Ekiti. The two were arrested after they had gone to the US Embassy, where they were to be interviewed for immigrant visa to the USA, as a couple. The US Consulate considered the act fraudulent.

These are few of the numerous unlucky cases of the illegalities some Nigerians engage in to obtain visas to travel abroad. Experts say this became pronounced in the last 30 years, when the rate of unemployment soared, ravaging a large chunk of employable youths and adults, who now resort to crooked methods to get into Western countries.

Another criminal method of travelling abroad involves the use of another individual's passport in which the new, albeit fake owner of the passport bears the data identity of the original owner. It is, however, believed that the electronic passport system should eradicate this.

Barrister Yemisi Oladeji, a visa appeal lawyer, who handles migration issues says the implications of procuring visa illegally usually result in the cancellation of the visa, if it had been already collected before it was discovered.

"If discovered at the point of application, the visa would be refused and the person could be banned from entering the country for some time," she says. "The individual could also be arrested or completely denied entry to that country or may even be arrested at the airport. Similarly, the person could be sent to prison, if detected, while living abroad and finally deported after serving a jail term."

Oladeji explains that there are stringent rules in place to deal with such dubious activities and these vary from one country to the other. "For instance, Section 320 of the United Kingdom immigration rules deals with penalty for trying to get UK visa through deception. False information or fake documents would lead to a ban from entering the country for up to 10 years.

"I had a client, who lived in Germany. He was arrested and put in prison. After finishing his jail term, he was deported. Some years later, he tried going to the UK, thinking they wouldn't have a record of his past. Unfortunately, however, information about him had been passed across all the Western embassies. In the form he was given to fill, they asked if he has ever been denied visa and he replied in the negative. When they discovered it was false, he was banned from entering the country for the next 10 years.

"Some of these questions asked by the embassies are just to set the records straight. It doesn't mean they are doing anything with it. But Nigerians think those people are like us that don't keep proper records. You will be shocked to know how they detect false claims."

Oladeji says the rate at which Nigerians seek for visa has been on the increase.

"In fact, Nigerians just won't give up. Before the advent of the finger print passport system, some Nigerians had up to five different passports so that when one got seized they could get through with another. But these days, this is impossible, as the finger print would give them away," she explains.

She believes that impatience on the part of those seeking to obtain visa has led to some agents milking them and making money from them, while providing them with fake documents, which in most cases, are unknown to them.

"Some people get lucky with the fake documents, while others are not so lucky. An 'arrangee' couple may travel successfully, only to be visited at home by officials, maybe, before they get their permanent stay document. And if the embassy officials cannot find traces or pictures to show that the people that came into their country are husband and wife, they get into trouble.

"The extent to which some Nigerians go to get these things done is really ridiculous. These embassies have also become very mean. What they do now is to employ Nigerians, who leak the secrets, which they then use to nail their fellow Nigerians," she says.

Shedding light on the reasons people engage in illegalities to gain visa grants into Western countries, Dr. Emmanuel Balogun, a senior lecturer in the Economics department, University of Lagos, says people migrate from a country, where infrastructures have generally failed.

By Ijeoma Opara

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