E-PASSPORT ISSUANCE IN UK: ACTING CG IDRIS JERE ADDRESSES SUSPENSION CONCERNS; SERVICE TO MEET HIGH COMMISSION DURING THE WEEK
The acting Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Isah Jere Idris has reacted to the suspension of e-passport issuance to Nigerians based in the United Kingdom by the Nigeria High Commission, London, UK. According to a circular released by the High Commission over the weekend, the suspension was due to the challenges experienced by applicants at the Mission.
The acting CG hinted that the Service had unveiled a facility in London on 23rd Nov. 2021 which was intended to make the process seamless and wondered why issues were being raised now by the Mission. He noted that since the new system started about 5 months ago, 5918 passport applications had been received with 5225 successfully done while the remaining were cases of incomplete documentation and data change issues.
This, he believed, should not necessitate the recent step of the Nigeria High Commission in London, UK. He assured though that he will be sending a delegation to the UK to see what the issues are with the view to address them.
In a press statement e-signed and released to the National Association of Online Security News Publishers, NAOSNP by the Service’s Spokesperson, Assistant Comptroller of Immigration, Amos Okpu stated that, “The attention of the acting Comptroller General of Immigration Isah Jere Idris has been drawn to a Circular issued over the weekend by the Nigerian High Commission in the United Kingdom announcing the suspension of issuance of the enhanced ePassports to Nigerians in the United Kingdom.”
According to Okpu, “The Circular had stated that the suspension is not unconnected with some noticed challenges being experienced by applicants while applying and processing their Passports at the Mission. This they claimed had resulted in some forms of frustrations leading to instances where some applicants have had to abuse and harass Mission Officials. The suspension they claimed is to enable the Mission put up certain measures to address the situation.”
”While the Service would not want to be seen as opposing any move by the Mission to genuinely improve its services to our compatriots in the United Kingdom, it is imperative that we offer some clarifications on the subject matter. Suffice it be stated that as part of efforts to deepen the data harmonization policy of government and with a view to achieving the emergence of a seamless integrated national identity management system for the country, the Service unveiled the enhanced e-Passport facility in London on the 23rd November, 2021”, NAOSNP gathered.
‘Some major requirements of the enhanced e-Passport include digitized application and payment process, mandatory requirement that Passport applicants would have been registered by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) on the same identity with which they will use for procuring the enhanced e-Passport as well as the introduction of the appointment system. The digitized platform is to ensure that applicants get to apply and pay the exact fee ONLY for the Passport category of their choice online via passport.immigration.gov.ng while the appointment system is aimed at reducing the avoidable age-long overcrowding situations at the Mission. It would be recalled that before the introduction of the appointment system, the entire premises of the Nigeria House on Northumberland Avenue London has not only been very chaotic but nothing close to decent. The appointment system has since addressed this as Passport applicants only go to the Mission for Passport services on their appointment dates.’
‘Therefore, the claim in the Circular that the unveiling of the enhanced e-Passport and the appointment system has brought some challenges is at best an imagination. This is because the records of Passport issuance activities at the Mission since 23rd November, 2021 till date, show a remarkable improvement. Below is a summarized table of operations at the Mission.
From the table above, a total of 5918 Passport applications have been received and processed out of which 5225 have been produced and the applicants issued their Passports within the period under review. The remaining ones are cases of incomplete documentation and data change issues. It is certainly not unexpected that innovations such as this often come with some associated concerns but that should not be sufficient reason (s) to announce an abrupt suspension of a system without considering the plights of applicants who desire Passport services and particularly those who have shelved other engagements to keep up their appointments with the Mission.
Consequent upon the above and in order not to subject our compatriots who desire Passport services in the United Kingdom to unnecessary pains in procuring Passports, the acting Comptroller General has in the exercise of the powers conferred on him by Section 9 (1) of the Immigration Act, 2015 directed the Immigration Attaches at the Mission to continue with the issuance of the enhanced e-Passports in the Mission.
Meanwhile, a team comprising representatives of relevant stakeholders on the Passport platform to be led by the Assistant Comptroller General of Immigration overseeing the Passport Directorate is due to arrive the UK within the week to address the challenges raised by the Mission.
The acting Comptroller General therefore, wishes to use this opportunity to assure members of the public of management’s commitment to steady deployment of ICT solutions to eliminate all unnecessary bottlenecks with a view to maintaining quality and transparent service delivery across all service windows.’