By John Amieyeofori
The Federal Government will sanitise international passports processing and tackle racketeers both within and outside the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) , Interior Minister Rauf Aregbesola has said.
Aregbesola made this known on Tuesday at the Roll Out of the Enhanced Electronic Passport and the commissioning of the Passport Production Centre in Port Harcourt.
He said that the major challenge confronting the service in the issuance of passport was not lack of innovation but people and their negative conducts.
‘’We have introduced far reaching reforms which some unscrupulous elements continue to frustrate and subvert with corrupt acts, these unscrupulous entities are both within our service and outside the service.
‘’The menace of touting, inflation of price, delay in processing application, and withholding of passport, are some of the challenges and we appeal to Nigerians to help eliminate these malpractices, there must be zero tolerance for these practices if we want to build a great nation, he added.
He called on both the Rivers Government and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to swing into action and identify those involved in the act.
The minister again said there was no passport booklet scarcity.
”The NIS has been provided with sufficient booklets to all passport offices nationwide.
”There are 13,000 booklets in Lagos, while the Port Harcourt office has 10,000. I urge those intending to obtain their passports to apply early to avoid delays.
”There is wait and get passport service worldwide. For fresh applicants, they are to wait six weeks and three weeks for renewals,” he said.
He ranked Nigeria high in the processing of passport.
In his remarks, Gov. Nyesom Wike of Rivers, represented by his Deputy, Dr Ipalibo Harry-Banigo pledged to partner with the federal government and all security agencies to ensure sanity in the NI office.
Wike expressed satisfaction with the reforms introduced in passport processing and commended the minister for the orderly handling of affairs.
On his part, the Controller-General of the NIS, Mr Isah Idris pledged said that under his leadership, the service will maintain the six weeks timeline for fresh applicants and three weeks for renewals.
He expressed confidence that with the inauguration of the passport production centre, issues of delays would be adequately addressed.