The Federal Government has cautioned Nigerians to avoid patronising touts and unprofessional officials when applying for the passports, saying digitised payments procedures will ensure a reliable process.
The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, said this on Monday in Oyo State at the rollout of the enhanced e-Passport, which has polycarbonate data page and other security features.
“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 came to report to us. Of course, we have zero tolerance for corruption and subversion of due process. We therefore take any such report and invoke the necessary disciplinary measures,” a statement by the spokesperson to the minister, Sola Fasure, said.
“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 enrollment 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.”
Nigeria launched the enhanced e-passport in January 2019. It has 10-year validity, self-tracking application and express centres for urgent applications.
The Nigerian Immigration Service, (NIS) has launched the passports in various offices within the country and overseas, including its Lagos and London offices.
Aregbesola said the new timeline set for fresh passport application and reissue will be strictly adhered to. He noted that the template stipulates a maximum period of six weeks for obtaining new passports and a maximum three weeks for renewal.
He said the digital passport is the latest technology in passport making anywhere in the world and only a few countries have it, adding that it is the most secure identity document ever produced.
“As you have heard from the Minister, we expect that the only time citizens will have contact with our officers is during the biometric capturing. You are to apply and pay only. Soon, we are launching an appointment management system and a tracking system for you to know anywhere you are in the world, the process of your passport application,” the Comptroller General of the NIS, Isah Jere added.