Nigerian Passport Seekers Accuse Immigration Of Extortion, Strange Charges

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Nigerians applying to acquire the country’s international passport have slammed offices of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) in Abuja over alleged acts of extortion and corruption.

They said that despite recent assurances by the Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, Immigration authorities have continued to run their corruption-laded business as usual and nothing had changed.

However, the Service Public Relations Officer, Dr Adedotun Aridegbe, dismissed the allegations as untrue, claiming that some passport applicants would fabricate stories to dent the image of NIS.

The applicants, who spoke in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), lamented that they were made to pay various sums of money by NIS officials before getting the travel document.

They also alleged that the electronic passport application system has been compromised, forcing those who followed due process with no alternative than to “settle” NIS officials in order to get their passports on time.

Some of them further alleged that even when the passport was ready, they were made to pay another N5,000 before collection.

An applicant said that he had been to the passport office over 10 times and was yet to get his passport: “I have been coming here since September to get a passport because I want to travel out of the country.

“First, they said the fee is N35,500 but now they have jacked it to N55, 500. This is for a passport with a duration of five years.

“Everybody is telling you to pay this and that and the place is chaotic. The whole thing is frustrating.”

Another applicant, simply identified as Umar, said that he came for the re-issuing of his passport which had expired but was told by a NIS official to pay additional “compliance fee.

“When I asked them what the compliance fee is for, the man pushed me aside and walked away.

“All I have noticed here is that many of the officials are unruly and behaving as if they are not accountable to anyone.”

Another applicant who sought for anonymity, said she applied for passport renewal online in August 2022 and was still waiting.

“Every time I go to the immigration office to track its progress, officials kept telling me to contact the person helping me.

“It has been frustrating and depressing. Everyone expects and believes I should have a certain someone who is helping me.

“When I told them I did it online, I got the ‘ohh’ look and then the term ‘self-service’ follows me everywhere I turn to for help,” she added.

A female applicant said under condition of anonymity that she missed a very important training abroad in spite of paying fully for the passport.

”I paid N116,000 for a 32-page passport booklet. At every stage of the process the personnel ask for money.

”I paid N70,000 initially and I was told to pay another N36,000 for adding another name, my marital name, then another N10,000 for approval of the passport, and at the collection point, I paid another N20,000.

”When I demanded for receipt the personnel helping me became angry,” she said.

According to the Immigration PRO, it is not possible for applicants to pay more than the official amount for passport booklets.

“All these things are not true. It’s unrealistic. When I investigated some of these allegations, some applicants just formulate stories to tarnish our good image.

“We have officers that work round the clock including weekends and even run shifts to produce these passports.

“There is a task force set up by the Comptroller General, Mrs Caroline Adepoju to checkmate any illicit activities going on in the passport offices,” he claimed.

Aridegbe said instead of the “unfounded allegations”, Passport Control Offciers across the nation should be commended for being able to clear backlogs of passport applications as directed recently by the minister.

He said both the Minister and the Comptroller General went through sleepless nights to ensure that the backlogs were cleared.

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