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Producing Nigerian passport abroad unjustifiable, says NIS boss



Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Mohammed Babandede, has said the printing of the Nigerian passport abroad cannot be justified.

The NIS boss said the service intends to remove passport processing from the country’s high commissions and embassies.

He said the service would establish facilities far away from the high commissions and embassies to be called visa processing centres.

The NIS boos said this is the global practice, especially in view of the current security challenges.

The same action, he said, was being done for visas for which the service was working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to effect the change.

Babandede spoke at a two-day public hearing on alleged incessant malpractices associated with diplomatic postings and deliberate draining of resources at the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and at foreign missions.

The hearing was organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs.

“We are doing that for visas in the United Kingdom (UK), where it is processed at Fleet Street. Why can’t we take passports to Fleet Street? We want to move passport front offices from the embassies. We are already talking with the Minister of Foreign Affairs to effect this,” Babandede said.

The NIS boss said the service generated only $20 million from passports and visas in 2020, against the $41 million it made in 2019 due of COVID-19.

Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama said the ministry had been proactive in dealing with issues concerning Nigerians abroad.

The minister explained that the extra $100 charged Nigerians by the mission in Atlanta, the United States of America (U.S.A), for services was voluntary.

“The $100 they said have been added is voluntary. It is just for those who want to have their biometrics done without an appointment. If you wait for your appointment, you will get it without paying. But if you want it the same day, then pay $100. But people who come without an appointment will still expect it and not have to pay anything for it. These are some of the challenges we have been having,” he said.

House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila said the House had received petitions and pleadings from Nigerians at home and abroad on allegations of malpractice and graft in the ministry’s operations as well as its departments and agencies.

Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Yusuf Yakub said the lawmakers were out to ensure that the ministry’s glorious days return with the support of relevant stakeholders.

“As I have said in many public fora, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs remains the first mirror through which the entire world sees our nation. So, whatever happens to it must be of concern to all of us. We must, therefore, resolve to work together to achieve the foreign service of our fondest dreams, and the time to do this, for me personally, is today,” he said.

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