The Nigerian government has warned Nigerians to stop patronising touts and officials of the Nigerian Immigration Service for the application of their documents, as payments for Nigerian passports have been digitalised.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, during the rollout of the Enhanced e-Passport with Polycarbonate Data Page and other security features in Ibadan, Oyo State on Monday.
“Part of the reforms is the migration of passport application and payments to digital platforms. But we regret to observe that applicants still patronise touts and unscrupulous officials in the hope to beat the system and get expedited services.
"When they were 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 only engagement with our staff is the enrolment of your biometrics.
"Patronising touts and passport office officials doesn’t always end well, but rather serves to defeat our purpose of eliminating corruption and infusing integrity to the passport administration process,” Aregbesola said.
Speaking on the new application process, the minister noted that a new timeline has been set for fresh passport application and reissue.
“Our template stipulates maximum of six weeks for obtaining new passports and maximum of three weeks for renewal. We work within this schedule to enable us to 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 a wait-and-get basis except in extreme emergencies. The only wait-and-get passport is passport photograph,” the minister stated.
On the new enhanced passport being rolled out in Ibadan, the minister noted that the passport is an improved document with high-security features.
“The Enhanced e-Passport 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 a few countries have it. It is the most secure identity document ever produced. We are proud to make it available to Nigerians,” Aregbesola concluded.
Speaking during the event, the Acting Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Comptroller-General Isah Jere, reiterated the call by the minister for citizens to stop patronising touts.
“As you have heard from the Minister, we expect that the only time citizens will have contact with our officers is during the biometric capturing. You are to apply and pay only,” CG Isah Jere revealed.
Also speaking, the Governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Mr Segun Ogunbiyi, lauded the efforts of the Nigeria Immigration Service saying the state would continue to support the service in performing its statutory duty.
Also at the event were the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III; Olubadan of Ibadan who was represented, service chiefs of all the paramilitary services in the state amongst others.