The federal government Monday urged Nigerians to stop patronising touts and unscrupulous officials when applying for passport, saying the process is now digitalised.
The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, stated this in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital during the rollout of the Enhanced e-Passport with Polycarbonate Data Page and other security features.
He said, “Part of the reforms is the migration of passport applications 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,” the minister stated.
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 a 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 claim made by applicants and verify them, for the final document we issue them to have integrity.
“Nowhere in the world is passport administration done on wait-and-get basis except in extreme emergencies. The only wait-and-get passport is passport photograph,” the minister said.
He said 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.
Speaking during the event, the Acting Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), CG Isah Jere, reiterated the call by the minister for citizens to stop patronising touts.