The Federal Government, on Thursday, announced plans to deploy undercover security operatives in a bid to check touting, extortion and other sharp practices by passport officers across the country and at Nigerian missions abroad. This is part of measures to make the passport application process easier, seamless and transparent.
This disclosure was made by the Minister of Interior, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, in Abuja on Thursday, April 22, 2021.
The Minister stated that the country had in the past witnessed several challenges, which included shortage of booklets, touting, racketeering, inflating the cost of passports being issued to ineligible persons, and so on.
What the Minister of Interior is saying
Aregbesola, in his statement, said, “We are turning round the entire passport application process in a way that is going to be easy, seamless and transparent. We will also accord human dignity to applicants and fulfil citizenship integrity.
Therefore, I am declaring a zero-tolerance stance to all forms of touting. No applicant will be made to pay any illegitimate fees. We are going to embed security operatives, seen and unseen, in all our passport offices. They will wear body cameras.
They will also detect and report any form of solicitations, inflation, improper communications, extortion, diversion, hoarding and other corrupt practices. Applicants will have no basis for further communication officers, other than to complete their application process and leave the venue.
The date for the collection of their passports or any challenge to the application will be communicated to them. The technology for the efficient running of this system has been acquired and will be deployed. Those caught will be dealt with according to the law.”
The Minister said that an ombudsman would also be created for members of the public to receive complaints and reports on officers trying to deviate from prescribed guidelines and subvert the process.
He explained that 2 special centres for expedited services had been created, adding that the special centres would run on a public-private partnership basis.
He said, “We are publishing on our website the list of the backlog of passports that are ready which are yet to be collected by the owners. They will be required to go to the state commands to collect them.”
In case you missed it
- It can be recalled that in March 2021, the Federal Government in partnership with the private sector, launched the Nigeria Immigration Service Passport Express Centre.
- This is to enable the government offer passport services to Nigerians and make passports available within a maximum period of 72 hours after a successful application.