The Federal Government will deploy hidden cameras, body cameras and secret operatives to all Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS)’s Passport Offices all over the country to curb corrupt practices by Immigration personnel.
The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, disclosed this on Thursday in Abuja, while addressing the press after a meeting with the Comptroller General of Immigration, Mohammad Babandede; Passport Officers, as well as the attaches in Nigeria Missions abroad.
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He said this effort is aimed to ensure a seamless, transparent process and accord human dignity to applicants and fulfil citizenship integrity, in line with the mandate of the Ministry of Interior.
Daily Trust had reported on April 10 that getting the Nigerian International Passport is now shrouded in corruption, racketeering and irregularities that see Nigerians paying 100 per cent more than the official fee.
Aregbesola, while acknowledging that: “We have had several challenges in the past, including shortage of booklets, touting, racketeering, inflating the cost, passports being issued to ineligible persons, among others, said it was imperative for the NIS to review its operations and rejig its system, in order to be able to offer excellent services to its clients.
“Therefore, I am declaring a zero-tolerance stance to all forms of touting. No applicant will be made to pay any illegitimate fees.”
Speaking about security personnel to be deployed at the passport offices, he said: “They will wear body cameras. They will detect and report any form of solicitations, inflation, improper communications, extortion, diversion, hoarding and other corrupt practices.
“Those caught will be dealt with according to the law.”
He said, henceforth, applicants will have no basis for further communication with officers, other than to complete their application process and leave the venue.
While disclosing that the date for the collection of their passports or any challenge to the application, would be communicated to them, he added that the technology for the efficient running of the system had been acquired and would be deployed.
The Minister disclosed further that an ombudsman will also be created for members of the public to receive complaints and reports officers trying to deviate from prescribed guidelines and subversion of the process.
Six weeks timeline
According to Aregbesola, starting from June 1, the passport application process will have a six-week timeline.
“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.
“If there are circumstances that will make the date to change, it will be communicated to the applicant one week before the collection date,” he disclosed.
The Minister, however, said all backlog of applications will be dealt with between now and 31 May 2021.
He also hinted that Express Centres were being created to deliver the International Passport to applicants within two weeks.
The Minister said a centre had been established in Abuja already with ten more to be created in the coming weeks all over the country.
He said additional fees will be paid by applicants to enjoy such services.