Nigerian passport racketeers busted in U.S.
The federal government, through its consul general in New York, Lot Egopija, says it has busted a ring of Nigerian passport racketeers in the U.S.
Last March, the Nigerian Senate adopted a motion to end the hardship faced by Nigerians abroad in obtaining and renewing their passports after hearing torrid accounts of extortionate Nigerian embassy officials subjecting Nigerians who seek to renew their passports to inhuman and degrading treatment.
Mr Egopija also assured Nigerians in the U.S. that he would remove all encumbrances on accessing passports at the consulate.
The consul general, who gave the assurance when he received the executive members of Egbe Omo Yoruba of Greater New York in his office, said a passport racketeering team was apprehended.
The Nigerian envoy added that he had been working to ensure smooth services for Nigerians and remove corruption in the passport processes.
The consul general advised Nigerians against giving incentives to anybody before accessing any services in the consulate.
“Sometimes, our people have not also done well. They tend to want to give incentives to staff and that is part of the problem but we’re covering that now.
“Only yesterday, when we started this new way of thinking (a new approach to consular issues), we apprehended a racketeering team; this team is based in Baltimore (Maryland).
“Baltimore is not within our jurisdiction; they will do processing over there, and they linked up with someone I term self-appointed Liaison who had his wings in the consulate.
“We have apprehended them and the staff that was compromised too, and we have assured Nigerians that you don’t need to know anyone. They can obtain services without additional incentive,” he said.
The consul general told his guests that the mission had been coping with an avalanche of Nigerians coming from other parts of the U.S, beyond the consulate’s jurisdiction for passport services.
The Nigerian consulate in New York renders consular services to 20 states in the U.S.
They are New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, Ohio, Indiana, Connecticut, Illinois, Rhode Island, Iowa, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Minnesota.
Similarly, the consulate in Atlanta renders consular services to 20 states in the U.S., while the embassy of Nigeria in Washington, DC caters to 10 states and the Washington, DC.
According to him, the mission in New York now renders consular services to Nigerians from Atlanta and Washington, DC jurisdictions.
“Their coming here puts additional pressure on us, but we are not complaining,” said Mr Egopija.
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