Skip to main content

Nigerians In Singapore Lament Inability To Renew Passports, Face Risk Of Deportation, Losing Jobs, Others

February 2, 2022

According to the Nigerians in the Asian country who spoke to SaharaReporters, they face the risk of being deported, losing their jobs or abandoning their education programmes over there.

Some Nigerian nationals in Singapore are agitated as they have been unable to renew their passports that are about the expire.

According to the Nigerians in the Asian country who spoke to SaharaReporters, they face the risk of being deported, losing their jobs or abandoning their education programmes over there.

Image


An investigation by SaharaReporters shows that up to 15 Nigerians are affected, with their fate hanging in the balance.

Passport renewal is not done at the Nigerian High Commission in Singapore. Nigerian nationals have to go to Malaysia, a neighbouring country to have their passports renewed at the Nigerian High Commission there. 

But because of COVID-19 and the attendant lockdown and travel ban in Malaysia, the affected Nigerian nationals in Singapore could not initially travel to the country to have their passports renewed. And by the time the travel ban was lifted, the validity period on their passports had reduced to less than six months. 

“We need a minimum of six months validity on our passports to travel to Malaysia,” one of the affected Nigerians, who identified himself as Ayodele, said.

According to the Nigerians, the majority of them have been good ambassadors in Singapore and making Nigeria proud.

They, however, called on the Nigerian government to come to their aid.

“Our passports have expired and some are about to expire, we now have sleepless nights.

“We have sought help through the Nigeria High Commission in Singapore, and honestly they have been doing what they can to assist us. But we don’t know if our passports will be renewed soon because failure to do so will make it difficult for us to continue with our activities here.

“The expenses that we will need to travel to Nigeria and come back is much. You will need a lot of money. Getting a good flight to Nigeria will cost about $4,500 (about N2.5 million at N573 to a dollar) now and nobody has that. The cheapest flight you can get will be $1,500 (about N800,000) and it will take you almost four days to get to Nigeria. Because of COVID-19, no flight is going to far places now.  

“Besides, officials of the Nigerian High Commission in Singapore even told us that there is no guarantee that there will be passport booklets in Nigeria which even makes it difficult for us to travel.”

Narrating his plight, Ayodele said, “My own passport will expire in April 2022 and it is like that for most of us. I have paid since October 2021 but I can’t travel to Malaysia to renew my passport because of the reasons given. 

“I’m a PhD student in Malaysia. I came to Singapore in March 2021 to visit my family as my family lives in Singapore. But since that time, I have not been able to travel back to Malaysia. Shortly after my visit, I could not travel to Malaysia because of COVID-19, the place was locked down. So, because of that, my passport is almost expired in Singapore. 

“I am missing a lot because I cannot go back to Malaysia where I am doing my PhD. And if I cannot renew my passport, I will be facing deportation. And there is no assurance that I will get the passport easily in Nigeria. That will mean that I will miss a lot in school. And I am in the final year of getting my degree and I am supposed to be defending my proposal. So, I have a lot of problems with that.

 

“But the truth is that the High Commission in Singapore has been doing their best. We renew our passports in Malaysia, not in Singapore. But the problem is that because of the COVID-19, we could not travel to Malaysia and by the time the lockdown was lifted, we still cannot travel because we need to have at least six months validity on our passport to go to Malaysia but we no longer have that.

“The Nigerian High Commission in Singapore is trying to bring officials from our high commission in Malaysia down to Singapore to help us with the problem but up till now, they have not been able to achieve that. Two days ago, they still called me from the Nigerian High Commission in Singapore to give me an update so they are doing their best here.” 

Another Nigerian in Singapore who also stands the risk of being deported and losing his job as a football coach told SaharaReporters that he was apprehensive about the situation.

His passport will also expire soon. 

“It will affect my situation here. I need to have a valid passport to renew my work permit. And right now, we cannot do anything. We will be deported when our passports expire,” he noted, speaking on condition of anonymity.

When SaharaReporters got in touch with the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), its Head of Media Unit, Abdur-Rahman Balogun, noted that it is a consular matter which should be directed to the Nigeria Immigration Service.

He, however, noted that the Nigerian government has provided a leeway for Nigerians abroad to travel with expired passports if they need to come to Nigeria. 

“Where we come in is that we have been able to sensitise the Immigration service and consular to the issue and the issue affects many people. 

“But if those affected want to come to Nigeria, there is leeway. It is allowed to travel with expired passports but only for Nigerians. They will be given Travelling Certificate (TC) but it is to Nigeria only. For the other issue, NIDCOM doesn’t have the power to say passports should be printed for Nigerians in Singapore. But we will inform the Immigration service. But I will advise Nigerians abroad to be close to the embassy, it will assist them.”

The spokesperson for the Nigeria Immigration Service, Amos Okpu, told SaharaReporters that the COVID-19 pandemic affected their service but assured that efforts were ongoing to come to the aid of Nigerians having passport issues in Singapore and other countries.

“The COVID-19 situation did not help matters but we will encourage the commission in Malaysia to go for what we call intervention to those affected places to harvest their passports and assist them,” he said. 

When asked how soon that would be done, Okpu assured that it will be done “very soon”.

“It is not only Singapore that is affected there, there are other places too,” he said.