The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has revealed why Nigeria issued an entry visa to Ahmad Al-Assir, the Lebanese Sunni Muslim extremist, who was arrested last week.
An official told Premium Times that Al-Assir got entry permission because Nigeria’s embassies do not take applicants’ biometric data.
Biometrics cover a diversity of unique identifiable attributes of people comprising fingerprint, iris print, hand, face, voice, gait or signatures, are used for proof of identity and verification.
The source, who wanted to remain anonymous said with the surge of security breaks and religious fundamentalism, biometric taking has become a necessary standard. But Nigeria with its ongoing fight against Boko Haram has failed to apply the technology.
He said: “While the measure tends to pre-empt influx of terrorists instead they (sic) depend on the use of stop list for potential visa applicants.”
“If we have a bank for storing the number of personal data which should be distributed to all our embassies; the prevailing spate of insecurity in the globe which has gone beyond just the antiquated stop list method would be checkmated.”
The foreign affairs official disclosed that the obsolete list which Nigerian embassies rely on are not even supported with photographs or fingerprints.
He said Nigerian consular officers do not adequately check the background on all visa requirements as no applicant appears for oral interview with visas even issued in applicant’s absence.
The source questioned why visa applications go through a third party and why Nigerian embassies seldom validate addresses and telephone number(s) of the person inviting the visa applicant.
He suggested that the federal government take steps to stop the policy of the issuance of visa within 48 hours and make room for efficiency technology.
On his own part, Bulus Lolo, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that he has personally started his own probe into the matter. He said the terrorist might have operated under a virtual name.
It should be recalled that Al-Assir was detained on August 15, after he was caught trying to find his way into Nigeria through Cairo, Egypt, with a fake Palestinian passport and a legal Nigerian visa at the Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport in Lebanon.
President Muhammadu Buhari has demanded a probe into how the wanted terrorist was able to receive the visa.