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09.08.2022 Featured Visa Seeker Submitted Sensitive Documents to BLS Int’l. They Misplaced Them

Published 9th Aug, 2022

By Joseph Adeiye

Abiola Idris, a South Africa-based professional, submitted original copies of some important documents to BLS International’s visa office in Lagos in order to get a visa for a trip to Spain in April 2022, but the company misplaced them.  

BLS, the outsourced partner to the Embassy of Spain in Nigeria and the Consulate General of Spain in Lagos, functions as a collection and processing centre. Idris thought travellers could trust BLS to handle copies of sensitive documents, but he had a different experience.

Idris wanted to make a tourist trip to Spain in early 2022, and this prompted his application for a visa.

“I submitted my application sometime in April. After the submission, it would take about three weeks before I got any result. So, I was expecting them to call me or deliver my parcel but got no feedback. I had to go to their office in Ikoyi,” Idris told FIJ. 

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Receipt acknowledging Idris applied for a visa to Spain at BLS

“When I got to Ikoyi, I met a staff member whom I related my complaints to. This staff member advised me to wait until I could talk to someone with the capacity to handle the situation. Fortunately for me, the manager came out. The staff member told me that the man’s name was Tolu and that Mr Tolu was the manager.” 

Idris met Tolu Sopeju and explained what the problem was to him. Sopeju offered to help and took Idris’ receipt for submission. According to Idris, Sopeju went into the office and returned to let him know that his parcel had already been dispatched.

Idris said that he asked Sopeju where the parcel was since he had not received it, but he assured him he would receive a call at the end of that day. 

“On my way home, someone called me and told me that he had my parcel. But he said that he was in Abeokuta. I wondered how this was so. My address is in Lagos,” Idris said. “To make things easy, I directed the dispatcher to meet with my sister who happened to live in Abeokuta. She located him and received the parcel from him.” 

THE DOCUMENTS WERE NOT MINE

Idris told FIJ that he asked his sister to open the parcel, and that on opening it, she found the passport and other documents in the parcel were not his.

“None of the documents belonged to me. I was surprised and worried. It was around 6 pm, so I told my sister to go to the park and send the parcel to me in Lagos,” Idris said. 

“I called my lawyer to let him know about this unusual development. He asked if I knew what might have caused the mixup but I had no idea. I eventually received the said parcel and confirmed that the contents were not mine. The parcel was addressed to me but the documents within were someone else’s. I then asked my lawyer to keep the parcel in his possession because I felt there were consequences for anyone holding documents so sensitive which belonged to someone else. 

“After I left the parcel at my lawyer’s office, I tried to contact BLS. I sent some emails and made a series of phone calls. Nobody answered my calls and no one responded to my email. I did this for a week and got no reply. My own parcel was sent to another person in Osun State. I think the person also tried to call them when my documents got there. They called me after that person heaped so much pressure on them, I think. I told the representative who called me that I had been trying to reach them via phone calls and emails and they did not respond.” 

Idris said that the BLS representative apologised and explained that the person who received his parcel called them, and that the documents were not with them anymore.

READ ALSO: Agent Emmanuel Adelodun Scams N8m From Canadian Visa Seekers In Lagos

‘I NEED TO GO BACK TO WORK’

“Eventually, I spoke with the manager. I explained to him that I had tried to contact them because of the mixup. They acted like they did not know that there could be consequences for misplacing such sensitive documents. My CAC memorandum, my birth certificate, my son’s birth certificate, my marriage certificate, my passport and even documents of my landed property, they were all in that misplaced parcel. I told the manager that the representative was not much of a help and she was rude to me,” Idris said.

Idris claimed that he forwarded his lawyer’s contact to BLS but they refused to speak with him.

“I don’t live here. I am based in South Africa. My job is at stake over there. I needed to go back but was delayed because my passport was not with me. After some weeks, another dispatcher contacted me and notified me that they had my parcel. They took it to Ogun State again. So I sent my brother to retrieve it. My brother went there and found only my passport in the parcel,” he said.

“The representative later claimed that I did not submit any other document. I asked them for a CCTV footage to prove that I did not submit my other documents. They told me to write a petition.”

FIJ called Sopeju’s phone number but he failed to answer his calls. At press time, he had also not responded to a text message sent to him.

This report was produced with support from the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) under the Collaborative Media Engagement for Development Inclusivity and Accountability project (CMEDIA) funded by the MacArthur Foundation

Published 9th Aug, 2022

By Joseph Adeiye

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