Nigeria’s Minister of the Interior, Alhaji Rauf Aregbesola, has blamed corrupt officials of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) for the delays in the issuance of international passports to Nigerians. He made the revelation in response to the outcry of Nigerians, both home and abroad, over the difficulties they go through to obtain passports.
Aregbesola, who was speaking at the opening of an NIS passport front office in Oyo last Wednesday, debunked claims of shortage of passport booklets, often cited by officials, saying the NIS has never lacked enough materials.
Aregbesola said the excuse of passport shortage is a lie being circulated by a few corrupt officials to extort applicants.
“One of the challenges facing NIS as regards passport application are the few corrupt officials of the service who are undermining the efforts of the service at sanitising the process and bringing integrity to passport application,” the minister said.
Nigeria’s Minister of the Interior, Alhaji Rauf Aregbesola/Photo: Rauf Aregbesola/Facebook
“These unscrupulous people are making the situation difficult by the day. If people did not tolerate them, they would not exist. They are the ones spreading rumours that there are no booklets so they can continue to extort the applicants,” he added.
“We did not have shortage of booklets at any given time; we have enough to meet the people’s need. There are more than enough booklets in our production schedule.”
Difficulties with passport issuance have been the lot of Nigerians for more than three years.
Nigerians wishing to travel out of the country and those living abroad who need passport for the extension or issuance of residence permit have had to endure hardship.
For example, many Nigerians in the diaspora have had to stop working because their residence/work permit becomes invalid when their passport expires. The desperate situation of passport applicants makes them vulnerable to unscrupulous NIS officials who extort money from them.
The minster appealed to Nigerians to stop patronising the ‘touts’ and report any NIS official extorting applicants for money to the ministry.