- The Nigeria Immigration Service said it has simplified the application process for international passports to make it for Nigerians to apply by themselves.
- The Service also disclosed that 80 of its officers have been on trial for indulging in the collection of illegal fees for the issuance of new passports and renewal of old ones.
The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has said that the process of applying for international passports has been simplified such that Nigerians do not need to go through any third party or agents.
The Service Public Relations Officer (SPRO), Comptroller of Immigration, Mr. Tony Akuneme, who disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday, said the Service had tried as much as possible to eliminate third parties so that Nigerians can process the application of their passport from the comfort of their homes, either on laptop or smartphone and pay online.
While noting that the patronage of third parties has been one of the issues facing the issuance and renewal of passports in the country, Akuneme said:
- “You don’t really need anybody whether immigration officers or agents which we usually call touts. They have upgraded and become agents. They are still third parties. The problem we have is the use of third parties because no matter how much reform you put in, you will always see a learned and civilised person using a third party to process his or her application.
- “And one thing they don’t understand is that third parties don’t have an idea of the information entered into your application. This can result in somebody having issues with his/her National Identification Number (NIN).”
Disclosing that the service has continued to punish its officers and men who try to assist people for a fee, Akunieme said the officers can assist people genuinely without collecting money from them.
- “We are committed to curbing corruption and other illicit acts in the service. You will appreciate the fact that if nothing else, the level of awareness has increased in the last few months.
- “Don’t patronise agents, fill your forms yourself. We have officers watching and these agents know they are being watched. When they take money from you, tell us. Tell the world if we don’t take action,” he said.
80 officers on trial
According to him, no fewer than 80 officers and men of the Service have gone on trial for indulging in the collection of illegal fees for the issuance of new passports and renewal of old ones. He also disclosed that eight other officers have been dismissed from service for the same offence in the last year.
He said the disciplinary measures under the passport reform, was part of the three-point agenda of the present Comptroller General (CG), NIS, Isah Jere, when he came on board. Akuneme also said that the CG’s three-point agenda includes reform passport issuance, tightening border security and improving the welfare of NIS officers.
According to him, Jere has done this to the best of his ability in the last year plus, which has led to most applicants booking online for passports.
The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola had recently declared that some corrupt officers of the NIS were sabotaging the efforts to fast-track the issuance and renewal of international passports in the country.