Home Economy Immigration management to clampdown on officers involved in passport racketeering

Immigration management to clampdown on officers involved in passport racketeering

by Business News Report

The Nigeria Immigration Service NIS has said it will punish any of its personnel who tries to sabotage the ongoing efforts of the Federal Government at reforming passport administration in the country through use of touts in passport processing. Acting Comptroller General of Immigration, Caroline Wuraola-Adepoju made the declaration at a news conference Thursday in Abuja. She said “I can assure you that any NIS officer that is caught in any form of malpractice, collecting bribes will be severely punished. I have the instruction of the Honourable Minister of Interior to ensure that we make scapegoats of recalcitrant officers and I am going to cascade this directive down the ladder”, she declared. On possible incidences of passports getting missing from immigration custody, Mrs Wuraola-Adepoju warned Passport Control Officers not to toy with the Service’s efficient filing and classification system. She said; “I consider it a system failure to have cases of missing passports. A missing passport in your custody is a missing career”. 

According the her, the determination and will to ensure that passport processing becomes as seamless and as simple as it should ordinarily be, is in line with President Bola Tinubu’s Renewed Hope agenda and the 8-point agenda of the Interior minister, Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo. She said under her leadership, the immigration service is determined to remove all bottlenecks in passport administration. “When I came on board, my first action was to declare a state of emergency in passport administration which was supported by my colleagues and our technical partners who increased the number of passport booklets despite the numerous hurdles they had to contend with. Our analysis of the existing situation that the minister met on ground pointed to the need for new measures which include increasing the number of passport production machines with the assistance of our technical partners.

“Then we ran three shifts of about 7 hours each in our passport production centres to allow the machines one hour of rest. We worked round the clock including weekends and we enforced our monitoring and evaluation process which afforded us the opportunity to daily obtain reports from every passport production centre. “Where there was need, we sent engineers to fix any issue or where there were shortages of booklets, we sent in more booklets. With these, we were able to produce 204, 332 booklets within three weeks. Out of those, 91,881 have been collected. Begs applicants to pick up their passports  “The purpose of this briefing is to invite applicants who have applied for passports to please come and pick them up. It baffles me that after the production of these passports, most of the applicants have refused to come and pick them up and I am appealing that they should go and pick them up. 

“There may be a few bad eggs who may want to give the service a bad name by asking for bribes before they carry out their legitimate duties. Where there are loopholes, corruption abounds because it is opportunistic. Where there is a technology lapse or poor internet connectivity or poor handshake among agencies relating to data identity, which will soon be a thing of the past as we embark on total automation of the passport process. With the coming of NIMC to the interior ministry, it will enhance our operations.”A visit to immigration.gov.ng will provide useful information and contacts about our services. Calls can be placed to the SPRO, Dr Aderigbibe on 08028320751 or SA Servicom on 08067761196. This is to enhance our feedback mechanisms. 

“We are going to create more passport application centres and automation of the process to enable applicants upload all breather documents including their passport photographs of certain specifications that we would soon release and they will only need to appear for their biometrics at our passport offices. This will enhance our efficiency and productivity. While we work on all these reforms, we plead for cooperation and understanding of our compatriots. We call on applicants to shun the patronage of passport touts and to visit our websites for online application and to avoid delayed applications which makes them susceptible to exploitations. We are trying as much as possible to eliminate human interference in passport administration. My heart bleeds when people call me to intervene to get their passports. 

“My vision is to take us to a place where you don’t need to call anybody to get your passports”, she stated.Asked if her Service would be able to meet the two-week timeline for passport processing, the Ag. CGI answered in the affirmative. “Yes, we are more than able to take up this challenge and the ministerial directive is viewed with all sense of seriousness. We have put measures in place to meet up with the challenge. The number of Nigerians who applied for passports in the last two years was unprecedented as it increased exponentially from what it used to be, due to the Japa syndrome and the realisation that passports could be used for other things like identification requirements. The Nigerian passport is one of the most safest security document globally and it is almost forge proof”, she said.

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