The Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Muhammed Babandede, has conceded the high pace of defilement in the NIS yet accused the shortage of booklets for international IDs as a central point.
He accordingly apologized to Nigerians for their terrible encounters at the passport offices nationwide yet asked applicant to utilize the agency’s online services as this would reduce the rate of extortion.
Babandede said this during a meeting on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme on Monday.
Whenever inquired as to whether he knew about the way that Nigerians still offer rewards to get their international IDs, the migration manager reacted,
“I apologise to Nigerians and I am not here to defend any officer. Any officer who takes money for passports is usually punished but we have challenges.
“One of the challenges we have is the issue of scarcity of booklets. When there is scarcity, the desire to rush over others is there. The government is doing everything it can to make sure that we can produce passports in Nigeria and get them as quickly as we can.
“There is nothing I can do if there are no booklets. The scarcity remains an issue.”
Babandede said there was a need to create institutional processing of passport and this has led to the launching of the modern passport processing centre in Abuja last month.
He said the centre would be replicated in other major cities in the country and this would curb extortion at the passport centres.
“We punish officers daily over this issue but I urge Nigerians to try to make payment online or try to plan your trips on time. Some people come to our offices, asking to get their passports immediately for a trip the next day,” the immigration boss said.
Babandede asked all illegal aliens to take advantage of the amnesty period to regularise their documents.
He also stated that efforts were on to harmonise all database systems in the country to improve citizen information.