The Senate has directed its Committee on Interior to investigate the delay in the issuance and renewal of passports by the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS).
It further mandated the committee to probe the contract for the printing of passports by the agency.
The nation’s upper chamber gave the directives at the resumption of plenary on Tuesday following a motion by the Senator representing Anambra Central District (PDP), Sen. Uche Ekwunife.
According to her, despite the six weeks timeline given by the NIS to process passports, Nigerians spend between three to six months to get their passports.
Ekwunife said getting an appointment for biometric capturing at the passport offices now takes between five to eight weeks, while it takes many applicants four months for their passports to be ready for collection after the biometric exercise.
The lawmaker further noted that it has become extremely difficult for passports to be processed in Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja, adding that this is creating a situation where Nigerians who reside in these states now have to travel to neighboring states to process their passports.
Persecondnews investigation reveals that getting passport in Southwest also takes about four to six months.
It was learnt that only Ibadan, Oyo State capital and until recently, Ilesha in Osun State, have production centres where the passport booklets are printed for thousands of applicants from the zone.
Immigration officials and touts now exploit applicants with a promise to fast track the issuance of passports but to no available after collecting between N50,000 and N80,000.
For instance, a woman (name withheld), who did her data capture on February 8, 2023, was asked to come and collect her passport in June as a result of shortage of booklets.
Sen. Gershom Bassey (PDP-Cross-River), who seconded the motion, said the issuance of a passport is a right of every Nigerian as he expressed concern that the idea of delay in the issuance of passports which was almost becoming a controversy was not in the best interest of Nigerians.
Similarly, Sen. Biodun Olujumi (PDP-Ekiti) said the motion was timely, saying it is important to resolve the issue as that was not the situation in the past when passports were issued within two to three days.
Persecondnews recalls that on March 13, 2023, the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) informed Nigerians that it has devised and agreed on a framework with the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) to significantly improve the quality of service, accuracy, and speed of passport services through the timely verification of the National Identification Number (NIN).
NIMC disclosed that a NIN verification fee of N1,000 would be charged for each Nigerian passport application.