Passport Applicants Protest against Outrageous Extortion

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When the new passport processing regime kicked off on June 1, 2021 by the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), it was supposed to be transparent and a more expedited system that would make it easy for applicants to obtain their passports, but it has become an underground means for exploitation.

The new system takes three months for an applicant to obtain his passport, so applicants bribe Passport Control Officers (PCOs) in order to obtain their passports within a shorter period of time.

To obtain a new passport, an applicant is expected to go online at the Nigerian Immigration Service portal and apply, make payment, select the particular passport office and date, but after the application, some applicants could be asked to come for capture within average of three months

Many applicants who wished to acquire new passport or renew existing ones find it extremely difficult to wait for that period, so they go to passport offices to see whether they could obtain their passports within few days.

The long period an applicant would have to wait seemed to be the weakness of the new system introduced last year by NIS, which is purely cashless and could have aborted possibilities of bribery.

Investigation revealed that the consequence of the long interlude has opened lucrative business for Passport Control Officers who now collect money to process passports for applicants within few days.

During the course of investigation, it was discovered that applicants literally troop out of Lagos to these states where they pay extra N70, 000 to N100, 000 in addition to the official cost of the passport to circumvent the long interval they officially have to wait to obtain the passports in few days.

It was also learnt that the desire to leave Nigeria has mounted extra pressure on the Nigeria Immigration Service, which has been unable to make passports available to meet the surging demand. However, there are indications that available passport booklets are kept away by the PCOs who only bring them out when they are allegedly paid extra beyond the official cost of the passports.

The spokesman of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Mr. Amos Okpu said the passport application process do not involve any kind of transaction.

He said applicants are expected to go online, fill the form and make payment. That it is a strong measure to avert any kind of cash transaction. It is wrong procedure to go to passport office with cash because you are supposed to go to the passport office with evidence of your payment online. While filling the form online you choose the office you wish to go, the date that is convenient to you. So what we want you to do is to educate Nigerians about this process, which you can use to obtain your passport without payment of money to anybody.

He added that the only applicants who are extorted are those who refused to follow the process, “because the Immigration process is cashless”

He urged that, “if anyone requests money from an applicant the applicant should report him or her to Immigration authorities.”

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