The Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, says about 97,000 passport booklets issued remained uncollected in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. This, it said, was due to third party applications and instances where some people dropped wrong contact information during their application.
The NIS Public Relations Officer, Mr Tony Akuneme, a Comptroller of Immigration, said these in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja on Friday.
Akuneme said the service recently found out that Lagos State had half of the uncollected passports, adding that half of the owners of the uncollected passports could not be reached due to lack of proper documentation because of third party involvement.
He added, “Some of them (applicants) engaged agents to help them in their passport processing and these agents might be doing it for a lot of people. They end up dropping wrong contacts, thereby making it difficult to reach out to the owners of these passports when they are ready for collection. This is a big challenge.”
The acting Comptroller General, NIS, Mrs Caroline Adepoju, recently declared a state of emergency on passport issues across the country.
The PRO said the service recently found out that most applicants’ complaints bothered on human and technical factors, which included slow Internet speed.
“When the acting CG assumed office, she made it very clear that she was going to focus on passport reforms and staff welfare, “he added.
According to him, the Lagos state Governor had agreed to collaborate with the NIS in terms of expanding passport services in Lagos State by providing office space where the service could set up front desk offices as well as land allocation to build staff quarters in the state.
He said the service had enough passport booklets, adding, “What we have had in the last one or two years is a sudden upsurge in the number of Nigerians who want to travel. We felt it was also related to Covid-19.”