The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has revealed that approximately 97,000 passport booklets issued across the 36 states nationwide, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), remain uncollected, News About Nigeria reports.
In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Abuja, the Service Public Relations Officer, Comptroller of Immigration Mr. Tony Akuneme, highlighted that Lagos State accounts for half of the uncollected passports.
Akuneme further expressed concern that due to inadequate documentation caused by third-party involvement, it has become challenging to reach out to about half of the passport owners.
He explained that many individuals had enlisted the assistance of agents to facilitate their passport processing, leading to incorrect contact information being provided, thereby complicating the notification process when the passports are ready for collection.
“Some of them engaged agents to help them in their passport processing and these agents might be doing for alot of persons.
“They end up dropping wrong contacts and thereby making it difficult to reach out to the owners of these passports when they are ready for collection. This is a big challenge, “he said.
To address this issue, the Acting Comptroller General of NIS, Mrs. Caroline Adepoju, recently declared a state of emergency regarding passport issues nationwide.
Akuneme noted that the reasons for most applicants’ complaints are attributed to both human and technical factors, including slow internet speed.
He emphasized that the acting CG’s primary focus is on passport reforms and staff welfare, and to support these efforts, the Lagos State Governor has expressed willingness to collaborate with the CG in expanding passport services within Lagos.
“That’s how she came about that term of declaring state of emergency in the passport issues.
“When the acting CG assumed office, she made it very clear that she was going to focus on Passport reforms and staff welfare, “he said.
According to him, the Lagos state Governor is willing to collaborate with the CG in terms of expanding the Passport services in Lagos State.
“So, we went to Lagos State Governor to help in terms of giving us office space where we can set up front desk offices and immediately, the governor was very positive in his response
“Lagos is a tourist place and immigration has a key role to play in the mind of anybody visiting the state.
“So it was a welcome development and you can see that the state of emergency that was declared is already yielding fruits as the governor accepted CGs request on land allocation to build staff quarters in Lagos, “he said.
Akuneme said that the service, however, needed the Media to tell Nigerians that people should not think there were no passport booklets.
He said “There are booklets issued that are not collected. It is ironical, we don’t have problem of booklet, we don’t have shortage of booklets.
“What we have had in the last one or two years is a sudden upsurge in the number of Nigerians wanting to travel. We felt it was also related to COVID-19, “he said.
Akuneme assured that the result would be instant as more facilities were going to be put in place to curtail any challenges of passport issuance across the country.