*Deploys Secret Operatives, Hidden Cameras To Passport Offices

The Federal Government has reviewed the timeline for passport application process by the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) to six weeks effective from 1st of June, 2021, so as to ensure seamless, transparent, as well as according to human dignity to applicants.

Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola made this known on Thursday at a meeting with the Comptroller-General of Immigration, Mohammad Babandede, Passport Control Officers, as well as the attaches in Nigeria Missions abroad, at the Immigration Headquarters, Sauka, Abuja.

He added that this would allow for enough time to investigate and validate personal information supplied by the applicants

He said: “We have had several challenges in the past, including shortage of booklets, touting, racketeering, inflating the cost of a passport, passports being issued to ineligible persons, the COVID-19 issue, among others.

“It has become imperative therefore to review our operations and rejig our system, in order to be able to offer excellent services to our clients,” he said.

According to him, efforts were on to embed security operatives both seen and unseen, in all passport offices who would wear body cameras to detect and report any form of solicitations, inflation, improper communications, extortion, diversion, hoarding, and other corrupt practices.

He warned that those caught would be dealt with according to the law,” he stressed.

The Minister disclosed further that an ombudsman will also be created for members of the public to receive complaints and reports on officers trying to deviate from prescribed guidelines and subversion of the process.

Arẹgbẹsọla said, “Therefore, I am declaring a zero-tolerance stance to all forms of touting. No applicant will be made to pay any illegitimate fees.

“A timeline will be fixed for every application i.e., a collection date. This will be six weeks, comparable to what obtains in other countries. This is to allow for enough time to investigate and validate personal information supplied by the applicants.

“What we are driving at is the peace of mind that comes from the assurance of certainty. If there are circumstances that will make the date change, it will be communicated to the applicant one week before the collection date.

“Applicants will have no basis for further communication with officers, other than to complete their application process and leave the venue. The date for the collection of their passports or any challenge to the application will be communicated to them. The technology for the efficient running of this system has been acquired and will be deployed.

“We are publishing on our website the list of the backlog of passports that are ready which are yet to be collected by the owners. They will be required to go to the state commands to collect them,” he said.

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