Vivian is just 24 years old, but she is already one of the thousands, if not millions of Nigerians who have been banned for life from setting foot on the American soil.
As a trained Accountant, Vivian could have got a choice job in Nigeria, but she claimed to have been convinced by her uncle, identified simply as Ugochukwu, to attempt to travel to the US. The idea was to travel to the US, get a million dollar job and money would start rolling in; but the plan was not as easy as it sounded.
When Vivian got to the US Embassy, the eagle-eyed white men discovered that all her documents were fake. She had a fake United Bank of Africa (UBA) identity card; she claimed to be a worker with the bank, but ironically, she had never worked in any UBA branch in her life. She also had a UBA bank statement, but that too was fake. The passport she presented to the white men showed that she had a travel history, which was supposed to make her attempt at getting American Visa easier. The travel history stamps on her passport showed that she had travelled out of Nigeria to many countries, including Germany. When some questions about some of the countries she claimed to have visited were put across to her, she failed woefully. She was promptly arrested and handed over to detectives attached to the Police Special Fraud Unit (SFU).
Speaking with our correspondent, Vivian, a tall, pretty lady, had a trapped look on her face.
She was accompanied by her elder sister, who looked worried and desperate. Police told Vivian that she was looking at prison, if she didn’t mention and assisted them to catch the person who prepared the fake travelling documents for her.
Vivian knew she had to choose between saving herself and the person who got the fake documents for her.
The lady, who graduated from Imo State University, said: “It is my uncle that prepared everything for me. He collected N150,000 as payment. I was living in the East when he asked me to come to Lagos that he would assist me to travel overseas. I was staying in his house until my arrest. When I called him that police wanted him to come to SFU, he didn’t say anything. He later said I should go home and pick the key by the window. He said that I should pick my things that were in the house and leave.”
The lady promised to do everything within her power to assist police to locate her uncle.
Speaking on the case, the SFU Public Relations Officer, Mr. Lawal Audu, said: “She went to the American Embassy with fake UBA identity card. She gave herself an identity she didn’t have. She appeared at the American Embassy and tried to obtain visa by deception. She said that her uncle, Ugochukwu, gave her the passport with fake visas and stamps. The uncle collected N150,000 from her. He went with her to the embassy on the day of the interview. When he discovered that she had been found out, he ran away.
“She got herself banned for life. She was arrested at the consulate office. Even when they asked her repeatedly if she had been to Germany before, she kept saying yes. How far could she go with such a false story? She was arrested and sent here. It was when she was brought here that she opened up and confessed that it was her uncle, who wanted to assist her travel to America that packaged the fake visas for her. What kind of assistance was that, especially since he collected N150,000 from her?”
The image maker said that for long, fake visa racket had been on the increase. While urging Nigerians to tap the wealth inherent in the country, Audu said that earlier, a young man, Ogunyemi Raheem Oladipupo, was also arrested for being in possession of fake UK visa.
“The young man’s passport had a fake Heathrow stamp, but he had never travelled out of Nigeria. We always have many applicants with fraudulent documents,” Audu said.
Audu described as saddening, a situation whereby foreigners are rushing into Nigeria to make money, while Nigerian youths are running away from the same country, taking their gifts and talents to other countries.
He said: “The Americans, British, Canadians and Italians know that Nigeria is a great country. They know that as far as Africa is concerned, Nigeria is the greatest. They know of her potential and resources.
“I asked a young man, who was arrested, what he wanted to go and do in the US, he said he wanted to go and work. I asked him who told him there was work in the US, he said his friend. I told him that he could work here; he said no, that he preferred US. Many of them could even set up a business with the money they give to visa vendors. There is no work overseas. Nigerians should bury their pride and do something here for themselves. The same work they refuse to do here is what they travel overseas to do.
“If you want to apply for American visa, don’t go with fake documents. I’m advising prospective visa applicants, do not patronise visa vendors. Sometimes, the visa vendors will fill information, which you do not know about. During interview, the person might be asked a question on the information filled, and the person wouldn’t be able to respond. The interview could be at the point of entry, with questions based on what is filled in the visa document. Some get deported at the point of entry.