The Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Mr Mohammed Babandede, announced this week that from 1 January 2018, anybody without a National Identification Number issued by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) will not be able to procure Nigerian passport.
The condition applies to both first-time applicants and those renewing their expired passport, according to Babandede, who spoke in Abuja on Tuesday after a meeting of the database harmonisation committee held inside the Presidential Villa.
He said henceforth, there would be no need for individuals to have their biometrics captured by the NIS and NIMC separately. “The harmonisation of data requires all of us to act but the biggest problem we are facing is that everybody is deploying his own technology.
“We have agreed that from January 1, 2018, anybody who is going to apply for Nigerian Passport, whether renewal or fresh application, must first have a national identity number.
“There is no need for you to go and have your biometrics captured by NIMC and then you come and capture again with the Nigeria Immigration.”
The Immigration boss said the decision was taken as part of Federal Government’s efforts to ease the process of doing business in the country.
“Once you give us your NIMC number we will collect the biometrics from NIMC and produce your passport,” Babandede told journalists.
“All NIMC staff can work in our passport office. So, when you come to get your passport, you can also get the national identity card,” he added.
Babandede also said that anybody that intends to apply for the renewal of his or her passport or wants a fresh passport but is residing outside the country will first have identification number from NIMC or will be denied issuance or renewal of the passport.
However, no plans have been announced for the deployment of NIMC officials to Nigerian diplomatic missions abroad to enable non-resident Nigerians obtain National Identification Number.
Nigerians living abroad cannot be expected to fly to Nigeria to obtain an identification number before applying for the issuance of a new passport or when renewing an old one in their countries of residence.
Sources at Nigerian embassies in two European countries, who do not want to be named in this report, say they have not been informed officially about the new policy and government’s plans to ensure that Nigerians in Diaspora do not suffer unnecessarily when the policy takes off next year. But they both expressed the hope that how the policy will be implemented outside Nigeria will be announced soon by the federal government.