Nigerian immigration officers are arranging “fake” marriages for Chinese and Egyptians to obtain resident permits in Nigeria to avoid paying taxes, the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Muhammad Babandede, has revealed.
He warned Nigerians against contracting fake marriages with foreigners.
Babandede, who handed the warning at a briefing with journalists in Abuja on Wednesday, said doing so constituted a punishable offence because it deprived the federal government of expected revenue from tax and payment for resident permits.
According to him, the warning became necessary because the service noticed that in 2020, the number of foreigners who got resident permits in Nigeria had tripled in number.
Babandede disclosed that the NIS arrested a Chinese and several Egyptians who used fake marriages to secure resident permits, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.
“Last year, if you look at our annual report, we noticed an increase in persons who got resident permits because of marriage, which suggests the possibility of fake marriages to avoid payment for resident permits and tax is there.
“We are going to be very serious in investigating that and we have already started,” said Babandede.
He added, “I am glad to say that at the moment, we have a Chinese citizen whom we have arrested, who presented himself as a visa agent.
“We have also arrested many Egyptians who have arranged marriages with compromised officers, who are also facing disciplinary actions.
“So, fake marriage will be thoroughly investigated and we will have a particular unit to investigate marriages, and we will know how to do it.
“So, we want Nigerians, both male and female, to avoid contractual marriages because it is an offence under the act and an attempt to deny paying revenue to the government.”
The NIS boss stated that renewals of resident permits must be accompanied by evidence of tax payment.
He added that the service is collaborating with the Federal Inland Revenue Service to ensure that non-resident migrants and persons staying for less than 183 days and earning income in Nigeria pay their taxes.