Minister task passport applicants to desist from patronising touts

The Federal Government has warned Nigerians who apply for international passport to avoid patronising touts and those it described as unscrupulous officials when applying for the document, said it has digitalised payment for the Nigerian passport to make the process seamless and stress-free.

The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, gave the warning, on Monday, in Ibadan, the Oyo State Capital, during the rollout of the Enhanced e-Passport with Polycarbonate Data Page and other security features.

The said the government is aware of what people go through in order to secure the documents.

He explained that part of the reforms taking place is the migration of passport application and payments to digital platforms, noting that many people, in the bid to beat the system and get expedited services, still patronise touts and unscrupulous officials, an act he said is to the disadvantage of the system.

He stated, “When they are disappointed, they come to 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 the 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 minister clarified that the only engagement applicants should have with immigration staff is the enrolment of their biometrics, asserting that patronising touts and passport office officials does not always end well, but serves to defeat the government’s purpose of eliminating corruption and infusing integrity to the passport administration process.

Concerning the new application process, the minister noted that a new timeline of a maximum of six weeks has been set for fresh passport application and maximum of three weeks for renewal, disclosing that the immigration service works within the schedule to enable its officials investigate any claims made by applicants and verify them, for the final document issued to have integrity.

Aregbesola said, “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.

He explained that the Enhanced e-Passport being rolled out in Ibadan 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,” Ogbeni Aregbesola concluded.

Earlier, the Acting Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, (NIS), Isah Jere, reiterated the call by the minister for citizens to stop patronising touts, saying it is expected that the only time citizens should have contact with immigration officials is during biometric capturing.

Jere stated: “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.

In his remarks at the event, Governor Seyi Makinde, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Mr Segun Ogunwuyi, lauded the efforts of the Nigeria Immigration Service, saying the state would continue to support the service in performing its statutory duty.

He disclosed that the state would soon come knocking on the door of the minister in its bid to seek an upgrade of the Ibadan Airport, noting that such may not be realistic without the effort of the Immigration Service.

Some of the dignitaries at the event include, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi; the Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Saliu Adetunji, who was represented by Chief Sharafadeen Alli; service commanders, heads of paramilitary agencies and traditional rulers, among others.

Dominica Nwabufo
Minister task passport applicants to desist from patronising touts

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