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Nigeria immigration utilize body cameras to checkmate passport racketing, others

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The Nigeria Immigration Service, (NIS), has said it will begin to use body cameras to monitor activities of passport officers to checkmate incidences of passports racketing and touting by passports officers across the country.

NIS Comptroller-General (CG) Muhammad Babandede made this known during a media chat to update the public on measures taken by the government to ensure seamless passports application and processing, held yesterday, in Abuja.

He said it is very important for Nigerians to know that they have a listening ear to the various challenges associated with the issuance of the international travelling document and that is why they have brought together involving the minister of interior, Rauf Aregbesola and all heads of passports administration within and outside the country.

The CG said “the agency has so far been able to achieve a number of milestones in tackling challenges associated with passports such as the provision of body cameras to compliance teams of the service to deter sharp practices and has so far been able to generate a total sum of $281, 422, 897.48 since the introduction of the e-passport initiative in 2007.

“Nigeria is the first country in Africa that is connected real-time, to the International Police, (INTERPOL), database of lost or stolen passports because we have enhanced the security features of our passports from the capture of four biometric fingers to ten in addition to the use of the Nation Identity Number, (NIN), among other security features.”

Babandede also said the agency has also employed the use of Mobile Enrollment Units (MEU), especially for Nigerians in the diaspora who are caught up in countries with COVID-19 restrictions, so that they are able to be captures and their passports processed without much delay.

According to him, a total of 976, 438 passports have been processed and issued to Nigerians since January 2020 and the remaining backlog of 244, 336 would soon be processed.

Also, the minister of interior said the federal government has revised the period of application and processing of passports to six months henceforth starting from the first of June 2021, a new passport regime will come into effect.

“By June first, a new passport regime will come into effect and by then, we have already cleared all backlogs of passports.
The technology we have acquired and will deploy, ensure that henceforth, applicants have no basis for interaction with officers in passports offices thereby reducing cases of extortion,” Aregbesola said.

While assuring that all backlog of unprocessed passports would be handled within six months, the minister of interior, said the federal government through the NIS, is turning around the passports application process making it seamless, transparent, easy and such that it will accord human dignity to Nigerians.

Aregbesola said that even though the NIS and the federal government has been in the spotlight over passport related issues, will continue to take measure to deliver optimum service to Nigerians by declaring a zero-tolerance to all forms of touting and racketeering in the passports process.

“I am a declaring a zero-tolerance to in the process, no Nigerian will pay extra for passport. We will employ all necessary security measures for this to happen all those caught will be dealt with according to the law,” Aregbesola said.

“We are going to open ten more express passports centers to ease challenges faced by those in immediate need of passports and we are also targeting to open more centers in every local government area, campuses, and higher institutions as well as hospitals.”

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