The Minister of Interior Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has denied planning to open Nigerian passports processing centres in banks and hotels nationwide.
Mr Aregbesola disclosed this in a statement on Monday.
It was earlier reported that 1,000 passport processing offices would be opened in bank branches and hotels across the country to speed up the issuance of the travel document to reduce the hardship experienced by passport applicants.
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Applicants have to wait in long queues and often have to bribe passport officials to help facilitate their passport issuance.
Reacting to this report, the ministry said, “The attention of the Office of the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has been drawn to news publications with the above subject matter, where an unnamed individual was said to have represented the Minister and made comments that are not in consonance with the policy drive of the Ministry, which supervises the Nigeria Immigration Service. To be clear, the Minister did not directly or indirectly state that passport front offices will be opened in hotels or banks.
“The Ministry is working with the Nigerian Immigration Service under the able leadership of CG Isah Jere, to reform the passport process by boosting the operations of the existing passport offices across the Nation and in the Diaspora to deliver improved passport experience for Nigerians with the ultimate goal of eliminating corruption and incentivizing productivity.
“This passport reform has recorded several bold and successful initiatives not least of which include; 1. The elimination of cash payment for any passport service at ALL Passport Centers, 2. The introduction of a digital Appointment Management System (AMS) allowing Nigerians book biometric capture appointments in advance, 3. The introduction of standardised timelines for passport collection (3 weeks for Re-issue, 6 weeks for fresh application) after biometric capture amongst many others.
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“Indeed, this reform is yielding results. So far this year, 1.5 million passports have been produced for Nigerians, dwarfing all previous yearly productions. We urge Nigerians to support the #passportreform initiative, by applying well in time, avoid using middle men, apply yourself online and discourage corruption.”