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OPINION: Immigration officers should stop harassing and extorting money from non-Gambians
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OPINION: Immigration officers should stop harassing and extorting money from non-Gambians

It is sad but it has been noted recently that a lot of our non-nationals brothers and sisters are being extorted, harassed and abused by our immigration department.

A friend of mine this week was approached by someone in plain clothes to show his identity. This person initially didn’t show any form of identity to prove he was an immigration officer. So my friend asked for his identity. He pulled an ID from his pocket, flashed it in his face within less than a second and put it back into his pocket. Even though my friend didn’t see anything on the ID the supposed immigration showed him, he pulled his residence permit from his pocket to show the “officer”.

As soon as he pulled out his residence permit, the “officer” grabbed it, entered the car and drove off. He ran after the car when it started to drive off asking for his residence permit back but the officers in the car took an object and wanted to hit him with it so he had to leave the car and they drove off. No name of the officer, they didn’t say which station they were from or they were going to.

What the officers do now is that, if you go and complain of missing residence permit or seized residence permit, they will ask for the receipt (the receipt they will sometimes collect from you when you go to pick up your residence permit). When you tell them that you don’t have it. They will ask you to pay for a new residence permit.

Even if you ask them to go through their system which is now supposed to be a digitalized one, they will tell you the only thing you have to do is to pay for a new one. This is what my friend is going through.

Is this a new phenomenon in our immigration department to non-nationals? Seizing residence permits from people who already have it and when they go back for it, they will tell them to pay for a new one?

If my friend committed an offense by asking the “officer” to show his ID before showing his residence permit, why not charge him as such? Why take his residence permit, only for him to be asked to pay for a new one just because he doesn’t have the receipt that was taken from him when he went to collect his residence permit?

Sometimes when non-nationals are caught without their residence permit, even if they have paid and just forgot to walk with it, the kind of beating and torture they are subjected to is not the best. Unfortunately, they only do this to African non-nationals. They don’t do it to the whites. The kind of humiliation and torture they give to African non-nationals in The Gambia nowadays, I dare say the whites don’t give it to our brothers and sisters who even enter Europe through illegal means.

I have traveled to a few countries in our subregion but I dare say (subject to correction) that it’s only in The Gambia here that you see immigration officers going from house to house asking for residence permits and arresting people in their homes.

Written by a Nigerian

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