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Minister orders Immigration Service to clear passports backlog in two weeks

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Minister orders Immigration Service to clear passports backlog in two weeks

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The Minister of Interior Hon Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo has ordered the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) to carry out the clearance of over 200,000 international passport applications pending before it in two weeks.

Tunji-Ojo gave the directive during a meeting with the Acting Comptroller General of the NIS, Mrs Wura-Ola Caroline Adepoju and top officials of the Ministry.

The meeting also attracted Managing Director of Iris Smart Technologies, Mr Yinka Fisher, a third-party company in charge of the production of passport booklets.

A statement from the Minister’s Media aide, Alao Babatunde noted that the directive was in line with the Minister’s promise to remove “bottlenecks in the acquisition of passports and other immigration documents.”

The Minister said delays in the processing and enrolment of passports in Nigeria have been a source of frustration for citizens, and raising concerns for stakeholders.

Tunji-Ojo noted that having to deal with about 200,000 backlogs calls for national emergency.

He said: “As far as I am concerned, the issue of passport is a national emergency. I keep getting emails daily from Nigerians complaining. We cannot continue like that.

“It has become an embarrassment to His Excellency, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. I represent him here as your Minister. That embarrassment is mine now. I am not changing my words. I need the backlog cleared in two weeks.”

Mrs Adepoju assured the Minister that all necessary resources and measures would be deployed to expedite action and ensure the clearing of the backlogs.

Adepoju disclosed that though the number of applications were in the region of 200,000 across the country, the agency has been able to secure enough booklets to clear the backlog.

“I get daily report on enrolment from NIS on my phone. This is my best way to be in the know of the situation. Nigerians deserve the best. It is their right to own a passport if they can afford it.

“We will also ensure that our debts are cleared by November. My position remains that the delay in the process of obtaining the passport must end,” the Minister said.
(The Nation)