Aregbesola opens passport front office, says more needed
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The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, has said Lagos State needs more passport front offices of the Nigeria Immigration Service in addition to the one he inaugurated in the Alimosho area of the state on Monday.
According to him, this is because half of all passport applications, which he placed at about 100,000, are made in the state.
Aregbesola said the Alimosho front desk office will ease the pressure on the three existing passport control offices in the state and curb shortages in the issuance of passports.
He said, “We are committed to expanding our Passport Issuance operations to bridge the shortage gap we face usually in urban centres like Lagos. It is this need that gave birth to the Alimosho Front Desk Office to ease the ever-increasing pressure on the three existing Passport Control Offices domiciled in Lagos.
“We promise to speed up the expansion process despite the challenge of limited resources.”
The minister said the Alimosho front desk office is not an express centre or a full-fledged passport office like the ones in the Ikoyi, Alausa and FESTAC areas of the state but a place where biometric data of applicants would be collected.
He said, “A front office is where applications will be made and biometric data of the applicant will be collected. It is a non-judgemental centre, meaning that no decision will be made here, no passport will be produced here and no further processing will be done here, but the application and biometric data of the applicants will be collected and forwarded to the NIS for processing and issuing.
“We certainly need more of this in Lagos. This is because half of all passport applications are made in Lagos. At no time are less than 100,000 applicants from Lagos on the NIS portal applying for passports. We will therefore need not less than 15 of these front offices in Lagos alone, to be able to cut the application waiting period to one week.
“But due to funding challenges, the government may not be able to provide these desk offices. We will therefore need private partners that will provide the lounge. Their only involvement will be to provide the space. The offices will still be manned by NIS personnel. Having these offices will remove the bottlenecks that lead to exploitation and eliminate all the challenges we face in urban centres where applications are unusually high.”
In his remarks, Comptroller General, Nigeria Immigration Service, Isah Idris, urged the pioneer officers of the Alimosho office to live above suspicion in all their dealings with customers and to be courteous and professional in the discharge of their choice duties.
“The Passport Office remains a no-go-area for touts, passport racketeers, fake breeder documents harvesters and all sorts of undesirable elements. I wish to warn that the long arm of the law and its full force will be visited on any person who by an act of commission or omission infringes on the Passport Offences as stipulated in Section 10(1a-h) of the Immigration Act, 2015”, he added.