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FG warns against patronising touts for passports

By Seye Olumide and Moyosore Salami, Ibadan
21 December 2021   |   4:31 am
Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, yesterday, said the Federal Government has digitised payment for Nigerian passport, advising citizens to avoid touts and unscrupulous officials when applying for the document.

Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola (second right); Acting Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service, CG Isah Jere (right); Chief of Staff to the Oyo State Governor, Segun Ogunwuyi (behind Aregbesola); Alafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III (second left) and Onirun of Oke Irun, Oba Isaac Adetoyi Adetulurese (left) during the Rollout of Enhanced e-Passport at the Oyo State Command of Nigeria Immigration Service in Ibadan…yesterday.

Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, yesterday, said the Federal Government has digitised payment for Nigerian passport, advising citizens to avoid touts and unscrupulous officials when applying for the document.

He disclosed this at the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) office in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, during rollout of enhanced e-passport and commissioning of Ibadan production centre.

He said: “Part of the reforms is the migration of passport application and payment to digital platforms. But we regret to observe that applicants still patronise touts and unscrupulous officials in the hope of beating the system and getting expedited services. When they are disappointed, they come and report to us.

“Of course, we have zero tolerance for corruption and subversion of due process. We, therefore, take seriously any such report and invoke necessary disciplinary measures.

“But I will implore applicants to stop patronising touts and our officials directly. Follow the process we put in place. Apply for passports and pay online. The only engagement with our staff is the enrolment of your biometrics.”

Patronising touts and passport office staff doesn’t always end well, but rather serves to defeat our purpose of eliminating corruption and infusing integrity to the passport administration process.”

He said further: “Our template stipulates maximum six weeks for obtaining new passports and maximum three weeks for renewal. We work within this schedule to enable us investigate any claims made by applicants and verify them, for the final document we issue them to have integrity.

“If there are challenges, wait. Eventually, you will get your passport before your due date of travel, if you apply early enough. You will still have long enough time to apply for visa and other travel documents.

“Nowhere in the world is passport administration done on wait-and-get basis except in extreme emergencies. The only wait-and-get passport is passport photograph.”

The minister described the passport as an improved document with high security features. According to him, it is “a great improvement on the biometric passport technology, which Nigeria adopted in 2007, as a deliberate step towards curbing forgery, impersonation and other forms of travel document fraud associated with the old Machine-Readable Passport regime.

“It is the latest technology in passport making anywhere in the world and only few countries have it. It is the most secure identity document ever produced. We are proud to make it available to Nigerians.”

Also, Acting Comptroller General of NIS, CG Isah Jere, stressed the need for people to stop patronising touts. He said: “As you have heard from the minister, we expect that the only time citizens will have contact with our officers is during biometric capturing. You are to apply and pay only. Soon, we are launching an appointment management system and a tracking system for you to know, anywhere you are in the world, the process of your passport application.”

He added that the production centre would cover Oyo, Osun, Ekiti, Ondo and Kwara States. Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Mr. Segun Ogunbiyi, lauded efforts of the NIS, promising that the state would continue to support the performance of its statutory duty.

In attendance were the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III; Olubadan of Ibadan, represented by Ekefa Balogun, Chief Sarafadeen Ali; and heads of all paramilitary services in the state, among others.

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