Monday, May 17, 2021

Passport scarcity causing Nigerians untold hardship: Lawmaker

“Nigerians should not be made to suffer before their rights are given to them,” the legislator said.

• April 30, 2021
Gbajabiamila and Aregbesola
Gbajabiamila and Aregbesola

The House of Representatives has urged the Nigeria Immigration Service to, within 72 hours, issue passports to Nigerians who fulfilled all requirements.

This was sequel to the unanimous adoption of a motion by Ugonna Ozurigbo at plenary on Wednesday.

Moving the motion earlier, Mr Ozurigbo said thousands of Nigerians who paid for the passport were yet to be issued the booklet.

“I am aware of the persistent scarcity of the passport booklets at most Nigeria Immigration Service offices and some of the nation’s foreign embassies.

“I am concerned that most Nigerians who have applied for passports and fulfilled all the requirements are constrained to wait endlessly for the booklet, which ordinarily takes less than 48 hours to be issued.

“This situation is causing untold hardship on Nigerians with the urgent need to travel out of the country,” he said.

Mr Ozurigbon said that Nigerians, on medical referrals outside the country, are developing needless health complications while waiting for their passports.

The lawmaker said those on urgent business trips and conferences had missed rewarding business opportunities due to passport booklets’ unavailability to enable them to travel.

“I am also concerned that Nigerians in the diaspora are experiencing undue delays due to the scarcity and the situation, and this is fast breeding a class of passport racketeers who extort innocent citizens with the promise to assist them in securing it.

“Access to passport is one of the rights enjoyed by citizens all over the world. In other countries, a passport is obtained with ease as they are issued immediately upon application and, therefore, Nigerians should not be made to suffer before their rights are given to them,” the legislator said.

The house urged the Federal Ministry of Interior and the Nigeria Immigration Service to review its Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company Plc and IRIS Smart Technologies Ltd.

This is to boost capacity and development of more passports booklet production lines, ensuring better service delivery and Nigerians getting their passports within 24 hours.

In his ruling, the Speaker of the house, Femi Gbajabiamila, mandated the Committees on Interior and Foreign Affairs to ensure compliance. He directed the committees to report within four weeks for further legislative action.

(NAN)

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