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Nigeria commits to issuing passports within 6 weeks of biometrics capture, clear backlog

Nigeria commits to issuing passports within 6 weeks of biometrics capture, clear backlog
 

To tackle the country’s backlog of passport applications and urge applicants to stick to official processes, Nigeria’s passport authority has promised that passports will be issued in three to six weeks of the applicant’s biometrics being taken, reports the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). It is also creating a taskforce to deal with 100,000 uncollected passports.

However, this only applies to submissions for which there are no anomalies with the applicant’s National Identification Number (NIN) or technical hitches.

The announcement was made at the inauguration of an e-passport production facility in Kano, in the north of Nigeria.

A statement by NIS Comptroller-General Isa Jere was delivered by Assistant Comptroller-General for Passports Sadat Hassan. Jere stated: “We reiterate our official position that Passport applicants should please avoid using third parties but go online and make their applications/payments themselves at passport.immigration.gov.ng.

“We will continue to deal with the challenges of recalcitrant touts as well as few bad eggs amongst the personnel who are bent on sabotaging the reform process.”

Previous reports from Nigeria tell of the struggle to get a passport. Not just long waits, but scams and even official staff obfuscating the process by rejecting online applications and instead selling paper forms. The country’s forex issues were also making it difficult to buy in enough materials.

The NAN report also suggests that the time promise is only valid for applications to overseas missions submitted by the end of January. The Guardian reports that a Diaspora Fast Track Programme is allowing Nigerians to return to their home country on expired passports, and even initiating applications for replacements as soon as they land back in the country via Diaspora Desks.

Meanwhile, assistant comptroller generals are being dispatched to regional offices with high numbers of unclaimed passports to tackle the more than 100,000 unclaimed credentials across the country, reports The Guardian.

Commercial capital Lagos accounts for 40,000 of them, with Benin and Port Harcourt regional offices also seeing documents pile up.

Incorrect contact details and the use of agencies are being blamed. Jere also blamed compatriots for not appreciating the importance of passports as credentials, concluding “Nigerians should be aware that the Nigerian passport is more than a travelling document; it is a personal identity and a personal security asset of the holder, and the sanctity of the process of obtaining it must be protected,” as quoted by The Guardian.

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