The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has commenced 24/7 production of Passport booklets and issuance to applicants within a week after data capturing.
The acting Deputy Comptroller-General of Immigration and Head of the Passport and Other Traveling Document Directorate, Sadat Hassan made the disclosure in an interview with PRNigeria in Abuja.
Mrs. Hassan spoke in the wake of the investigative story published by the Fact-Check medium over underhand practices by some immigration personnel who extort applicants and delay the issuance of their passports.
Recall that the Minister of Interior, Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, had also said that from December 2023, passports would be made available to applicants in two weeks.
DCG Hassan said: “The Controller-General of Immigration, Caroline Wura-ola Adepoju, has not only directed the 24/7 production of booklets including on Saturday and Sunday, she also provides transportation and other incentives to ensure that we meet the demands as well as the instruction of the Hon Minister of Interior.”
She revealed that so far, all outstanding backlog of passports has been cleared, adding that only Kwara and Edo have some backlog because of technical glitches.
The DCGI also announced that with the deployment of technology, passport production has now been centralised through which the Service can assess data of applicants, complaints, and other irregularities that can be easily tackled.
“Before now, we have what is called the e-Passport, NIS is currently moving to the production of a new enhanced one which is engraved with laser technology. Through this, we have a centralised platform to work with since the National Identification Number, NIN, is a requirement for application,” she said.
According to her, the movement to the new platform is now 80 percent complete.
“Interestingly, this process has also been completed in some of our offices in the diaspora including the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States of America,” she added.
Contrary to a widely held belief that the booklets are produced outside the country by foreigners, DCG Hassan dispelled the rumour insisting that Nigerians’ international passports are produced in the country by Nigerians.
She emphasised that while immigration officers are responsible for the production, a Nigerian firm, IRIS Smart Technologies is the technical partner that handles the supply, installation, and maintenance of the machines.
On the alleged corrupt practices of some personnel, Mrs. Hassan said that the Immigration service has in place a mechanism to checkmate and punish erring staff members involved in such malpractices.
“Our boss, CG Adepoju Carol Wura-Ola, has warned passport applicants to stop inducing our officers with monies in order to gain undue favour. After al, under the law, there is punishment for both the giver and the taker of bribes.
“Meanwhile, the NIS has anti-corruption and Servicom units where cases of erring officers are handled on a regular basis for investigation and prosecution if necessary.
“We have said it times without number, it is on our website and boldly written at facilities and premises displayed in sensitisation banners in all the passport offices nationwide warning applicants not to give bribes to NIS officers under any guise,” she said.
While applauding the CG as regards the welfare of service personnel and the provision of additional facilities, she said that the new Minister of Interior has proven his exceptional leadership qualities by motivating the service to do more.
“The movement of the National Identity Management Commission, NIMC, to the Ministry of Interior has further enhanced collaboration, harmonisation and synchronisation of data within the shortest times which eases our work. We no longer have to wait for information from other agencies under a different ministry to carry out our statutory mandate,” she added.