FG has lamented the non-collection of 250,000 passports from the Immigration Service.
Newsonline reports that the Federal Government has lamented that despite the public outcry in recent times over delay in passport issuance, more than 250,000 passports have not been collected by applicants nationwide from the Nigeria Immigration Service.
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Minister of Interior, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, who disclosed, however, warned against passport racketeering among the officers of the NIS.
He spoke on Thursday in Enugu, at the unveiling of the enhanced electronic passport facility and commissioning of the passport production centre, where he also disclosed that said the Federal Government was working to phase out the old electronic passports.
While warning Nigerians not to patronise touts and Nigeria Immigration Service officials, he said that all transactions must be done online
Arẹgbẹsọla admitted that there had been some challenges in the recent past on delays experienced by some applicants in procuring their passports, saying this was regrettable.
He said: “But it will interest you to know that between 2019 and now, the NIS has issued about 3 million passports to Nigerians. Last year alone, 1.3 million passports were issued.
“Also, last time I checked, over 250,000 passports remain uncollected by applicants. Their owners will probably be among those complaining they are yet to receive their passports.
“Nevertheless, many applicants are not going to have their passports because of the errors in their applications, which delayed processing. They may not know because they applied through touts and other illegal channels.
“A major challenge of passport administration is the illegal patronage of touts and NIS officials, instead of the stipulated online platform. Our application system is designed to eliminate personal contact, other than for biometric purposes. This is to curb corruption, extortion and inflation. But as long as applicants try to cut corners, they defeat our purpose and create avoidable problems.
“The first problem that arises is unfulfilled expectations. Touts and officials are not in any position to guarantee anything. Our system makes room for six weeks for fresh application and three weeks for renewal. This is to enable the NIS to investigate and verify claims by the applicants.
“It is advisable for travellers in need of a passport to begin the application process early, factoring our timeline. The maximum of six weeks is reasonable and among the shortest application time in the world. Promising an applicant an express service, therefore, is a scam.
“It is bound to end in disappointment and for the most part it does. I will appeal therefore to applicants to follow the path we provide through the online portal. That is the only reliable and assuring path to procuring a Nigerian passport,” he said.
The passport production centre, inaugurated three months after the commissioning of that of the South-west in Ibadan, is to serve entire Southeastern Nigeria.
The former Osun state governor said the introduction of the enhanced electronic passports was to eradicate scams, racketeering and all other forms of corruption in the application process of the document.
Speaking at the event, the acting Comptroller General of NIS, Isah Jere Idris, said the new enhanced electronic passport is of a polycarbonate technology with additional 25 security features over the old electronic passport.
“It is the latest passport technology…It is difficult to forge as the improved security features will make any attempt not only impossible but also easily noticeable,” he said.
According to the NIS CG, Nigeria is the first country in Africa to migrate to the type of passport.
The enhanced electronic passport comes in three categories; the 32-page five-year validity, the 64-page five-year validity and the 64-page 10-year validity.