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Senate Moves to Probe Delay in Issuance, Renewal of Int’l Passport

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The Senate on Tuesday, directed its Committee on Interior to urgently  investigate the Nigerian Immigration Services (NIS) over the circumstances  leading to the delay of issuance and renewal of the Nigerian passport. 

The upper chamber also mandated the committee to investigate the contract award for the production of passports and submit the report of its probe within two weeks.

The Senate’s resolution was sequel to the adoption of a motion on the “Delay on issuance, renewal of Nigerian passport by the Nigerian Immigration Services” at plenary on Tuesday and was sponsored by Senator Lilian Uche Ekwunife (Anambra Central).

Ekwunife, in her lead debate, said the delay in the renewal of Nigeria passport  by the NIS was resulting in untold hardships for Nigerians, who either needed to travel out of the country or return to the country.

She said the Nigerian passport was an official identity document issued to Nigerians for the purpose of travelling out and into the country in exercise of their rights to personal liberty and freedom of movement.

She said many Nigerians were still facing challenges with passport processing, despite the six weeks timeline of  processing passports given by the federal government barely a year ago.

According to her, new applicants and those who want their passports renewed spend between three to six months processing their applications at the NIS offices in Nigeria and the country’s embassies abroad.

Ekwunife said securing appointments for biometric capturing at the passport offices now takes between five to eight weeks.

She also said many applicants spend four months waiting for their passports to be ready for collection after the biometric exercise.

She lamented that it had also become extremely difficult for passport to be processed across the NIS offices in different states, especially in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt.

This, she noted, was forcing the applicants to travel to various locations  to get their passports renewed.

She said: “The international students are also finding it very difficult to renew their passports to enable them to travel back to reunite with their families.”

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senator representing Cross River South, Gershom Bassey, who seconded the motion, said issuance of passport was a right of every  Nigerian.

He expressed concern that the issue of delay in the issuance of passport that was almost becoming controversial,  was not in the best interest of Nigerians.

Corroborating Bassey’s submission, another PDP member representing Ekiti South, Senator Biodun Olujimi, said the motion was timely.

Olujimi said that it was important to resolve the issue as that was not the situation in the past when passport  were issued within two to three days.

She said it was embarrassing to  Nigerians that applicants would need to wait six to eight months for their passports  to be issued.

Senator Muhammad Adamu Bulkachuwa (PDP-Bauchi) however said the motion had come too late as the matter should have been presented earlier before the Senate.

Bulkachuwa said he had experienced  a similar delay when he applied for a renewal of his passport as Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs.

According to him, it took five weeks for him to be issued his passport after his biometric exercise.

Meanwhile, the Senate in its resolution on the motion, mandated its committee  to investigate the contract award for the printing of Nigerian passport 

The Interior Committee was directed to report back the outcome of its investigation within two weeks.

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