Acting Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Mr Isa Idris opened up on why Nigeria’s international passport is scarce.
Gladtune reports Mr Idris made this known on Saturday during a virtual media interaction, where he blamed delays in production of passports on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Idris stressed that global lockdowns that accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic, and the difficulty in accessing foreign exchange in the country affected the production of passports.
He, however, assured Nigerians that by March 2022 the delay in renewing international passports or getting new ones will be a thing of the past.
Idris stressed part of the efforts towards addressing the problem is the launch of the enhanced e-passport, which he noted has been embedded with improved features.
He said it has been launched in the United Kingdom and in some Nigerian centres; Kano, Port Harcourt and Ibadan.
“Just Friday we received a total of 45,000 booklets towards clearing the backlogs and in December alone, we received more than 100,000 booklets which we have continued to distribute across the passport centres nationwide. This is not just for Nigerians in Nigeria alone but for those in the Diaspora as well.
“But with the introduction of the enhanced e-Passport, we are good to go in our efforts towards addressing the scarcity. This enhanced e-passport is a great improvement on the biometric passport technology which we adopted as a country in 2007. It is a strategic step towards curbing forgery, impersonation and other forms of fraud associated with obtaining travel documents under the old Machine Readable Passport regime,” Idris said.
On behalf of the service, Idris pleaded with Nigerians to apply only online and stop physical contact with immigration officials to avoid corruption.
“We have continued to try to stop personal contacts with our officials. My predecessor started to break the jinx and we are continuing on that,” he said.
The comptroller-general also condemned what he described as the last-minute rush for either renewal or fresh application for international passports, saying applicants for renewal can apply for it six months to the expiration of their current passports.