Some Nigerians seeking to obtain international passport booklets in Lagos to enable them travel outside the country on Wednesday decried their inabilities to get the passports from the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) passport offices, in the state.
They told our reporter that they had been visiting the offices in Ikoyi, Festac town and Ikeja for weeks without success.
It was reported that there are the 32-page booklets for five years and the 64-page booklets for five years and 10 years respectively.
However, our reporter could not access the NIS website as at the time of filling-in this report to get the official amounts that prospective applicants should pay for either of the booklets.
Mr Gani Anifowose, a business man, who deals in textiles at Okearin Market on Lagos Island told our reporter that he was yet to obtain the passport booklet he applied and paid for since February.
“Since I applied in February, I have been parading the Ikoyi Passport Office.
“I just want to appeal to the Federal Government to fix whatever the issue is because my inability to get it is affecting my business proposals.
“This is my first time of planning to travel outside the country on a business trip to meet with some textile companies that can facilitate my business but to no avail,” Anifowose said.
Another applicant, Mr Ezekiel Ani, said that he applied for a 32-page international passport booklet, but ‘I am still waiting’.
“I applied for mine at the Ikeja Passport Office,” Ani said.
However, a staff member of one of the old generation banks, who spoke to our reporter on condition of anonymity said that he applied for one and he was able to obtain a 64-page booklet.
He refused to disclose how much he obtained it but only said, ‘at a very high cost’, and was also silent on the passport office from where he collected it.
However, the Passport Control Officer (PC0) in Ikoyi, Mr Abdukadri Garo, told our reporter that his office was not experiencing any scarcity or shortage of passport booklets.
Garo who assumed duty at the Ikoyi Passport Office in September 2020 said, “there is no scarcity of international passport booklets as the office rolls out new passport booklets and renew old passports promptly.
“All applicants can access their passports within 48 hours after filing-in their applications,” he said.
Garo also stated some of the challenges confronting the productions of international passport booklets.
He stressed that some of the applicants were yet to register and obtain their National Identification Numbers (NIN), while others supply incorrect data while completing their application forms.
“Most Nigerians have refused to understand that NIS cannot issue international passport booklets without potential applicants supplying their NIN.
“Also, if the date of birth (DOB) on the NIN contradicts the DOB on the birth certificate, it will be difficult for the passport office to work with the conflicting dates while processing the booklet.
“Some applicants are also fond of putting wrong dates on their application forms, is it the NIS that will correct such mistakes for the applicants? he said.
Garo said, “The Ikoyi Passport Office does not get involved in sharp practices as it is being portrayed by some elements, especially, when it comes to the issuance of passport booklets.”
He advised Nigerians who wanted to apply for the booklets to always exercise patients, supply genuine information when filling their application forms.
They should stop giving wrong interpretations to things but seek clarifications from the rightful and genuine sources, he stressed.
Also, the Passport Control Officer appealed to would-be applicants to stop patronising touts.
Similarly, the Festac Passport Control Officer (PCO), Mrs Adeola Adesokan, said that the Festac Office had never experienced any shortage of passport booklets.
“Nigerians have been coming in and Festac office has been attending to them.
“This is just mere rumour. My sister, please come and see the booklets yourself.
“NIS has demonstrated its commitment to Nigerians with the inauguration of a new Festac office for the purpose of rolling out the first enhanced e-Passport in 2020,” she said.
The Controller, Lagos State Passport Command, Mr Sunday Fagbamigbe, told our reporter that there is no scarcity of passport booklets in Lagos.
Fagbamigbe, also of the rank of Comptroller of Immigration (CI) said, “There is no report of scarcity of international passport booklet that has been brought to my notice.
“I don’t know about any scarcity, none of my Passport Control officers has reported any scarcity to me,” Fagbamigbe said.