The House of Representatives has urged the Nigeria Immigration Service to, within 72 hours, issue passports to Nigerians who had fulfilled all the requirements.
This was sequel to the unanimous adoption of a motion by Rep. Ugonna Ozurigbo at plenary, on Wednesday.
Moving the motion earlier, Ozurigbo said that thousands of Nigerians that paid for passport were yet to be issued the booklet.
He said that the Federal Ministry of Interior, through the Nigeria Immigration Service, was responsible for the issuance and re-issuance of Nigerian passports to citizens.
According to him, the ministry liaises with the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company Plc and IRIS Smart Technologies Ltd for the production of passport booklets and allied services.
“I am aware of the persistent scarcity of the passport booklets at most Nigeria Immigration Service offices and some of the nation’s foreign embassies.
“ I am concerned that most Nigerians who have applied for passports and fulfilled all the requirements, are constrained to wait endlessly for the booklet, which ordinarily takes less than 48 hours to be issued.
“This situation is causing untold hardship on Nigerians with urgent need to travel out of the country,” he said.
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Ozurigbon said that Nigerians, on medical referrals outside the country, are developing needless health complications while waiting for their passports.
The lawmaker said those on urgent business trips and conferences, have missed rewarding business opportunities due to the unavailability of passport booklets, to enable them travel.
“I am also concerned that Nigerians in the diaspora are experiencing undue delays due to the scarcity and the situation and this is fast breeding a class of passport racketeers who extort innocent citizens with the promise to assist them to secure it.
“Access to passport is one of the rights enjoyed by citizens all over the world.
“In other countries, passport are obtained with ease as they are issued immediately upon application and, therefore, Nigerians should not be made to suffer before their rights are given to them,” the legislator said.
The house urged the Federal Ministry of Interior and the Nigeria Immigration Service to review its Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company Plc and IRIS Smart Technologies Ltd.
This is with a view to boosting capacity and development of more passports booklet production lines, ensuring better service delivery and Nigerians getting their passports within 24 hours.
In his ruling, the Speaker of the house, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, mandated the Committees on Interior and Foreign Affairs to ensure compliance.
He directed the committees to report back within four weeks for further legislative action.
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