2023 GOVERNORSHIP AND
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Immigration produced almost 2m passports in 2022 –FG
Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, yesterday, said the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) in 2022 issued 1,899,68 passports, the highest in over seven years
Responding to questions at the 64th edition of State House briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team, Aregbesola said the figure was a landmark achievement. He rated the Ministry of Interior and its agencies as having scored above 80 per cent in terms of performance.
Aregbesola also said the massive exodus of Nigerians out of the country in search of greener pastures was fuelling demands for passports.
“In the annals of Nigeria that has not happened before; as I am talking to you, we have more than 200,000 booklets in our store.
“We are not denying the fact that there are human-induced challenges if you look at the number of applications, vis-a-vis the number of passports produced.
“We are above 80 per cent in performance; in any way, take it as given that we produced more than 1.7 million passports in 2022,’’ Aregbesola said.
The minister said a presidential directive had been issued with regards to the domestication of passport production.
He said the Ministry of Interior, in collaboration with the NIS, had empanelled a ‘project steering committee’ with mandate to actualise the goal.
Aregbesola also said there was a major reformation and digitisation of passport issuance and administration as a temporary electronic passport had been introduced.
“We are digitising the process; my plan was to fully digitise the Ikoyi Registry in Lagos by December 2022 but I could not fully achieve that.
“What does that mean? When this process is concluded, an applicant does not need to bring anything anymore; you complete your process online and by that time, you don’t need an agent.
“There can’t be racketeering. I am on it and I want to guarantee that we will do it before we leave.
“We have also concluded arrangements on the temporary passport issue; we have the passport, but we have some issues with our sister ministry – the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and we are solving it,’’ he said.
According to the minister, the temporary passport will facilitate a return to Nigeria for Nigerians living abroad if they need to get back in emergencies and did not have current passports.
The minister said: “Much as that won’t be a problem to us to take at our reception desk, some airlines could be difficult.
“I can even tell you that we are discussing with South Africa now; South Africa does not allow the use of expired passports as a nation contrary to International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) regulation.
“ICAO says every citizen of a nation dead or alive cannot be denied entry to his home; which is logical anyway.
“The last time I treated a file from South Africa through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, they were insisting if one’s passport is not current, one cannot be taken in or out of South Africa’s space.
“It is their policy; you cannot deny a nation its national policies and programmes.
“To avoid that, we introduced what is called temporary electronic passport; it is a one-way passport to return home,’’ Aregbesola explained.
He said that under the temporary passport regime, citizens who had the data pages of their expired passports could take them to Nigeria’s embassies to get the temporary electronic passport after paying the appropriate fees.
“The temporary electronic passports are almost exactly the same as their expired passports.
“It does not have more than one page to take you home; when you hold the electronic passport, you cannot go anywhere but home.
“We are still in negotiation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,’’ Aregbesola said
Aregbesola, also disclosed there has been another attempt to break into another of the country’s correctional centre after that of Kuje in July 2022, but that culprits have been killed.
The minister, who did not disclose which of the country’s correctional centres the attempt was made, said there was no inmate in the country whose biometric has not been captured, declaring it will be impossible to hide, henceforth.
More than 400 prisoners went missing after the Kuje correctional centre attack last July. Four inmates, a security guard and several attackers were reportedly killed after the prison was targeted.
Asked what is responsible for the unprecedented number of prison breaks in the country, especially the most daring one being Kuje, he said: “It is the season. Don’t say ha! I know you don’t want to hear it. Have we had what we are having in Nigeria today before? It is the season and it’s global. Why are we having assassinations in America? Bad as it is, it is horrible but in America, people get killed every second. In California within the last one week in America, 20 people have been killed, did you asked why? It has nothing to do with technology, it could even be linked to climate change.
“When things are hard, people who cannot manage their own stability resort to those type of things. You can’t say there is no terrorism in Nigeria, we are managing it. You can’t say there is no banditry in Nigeria, we are managing it. It is because of the level of insecurity in Nigeria and we are arising to it. It is as simple as that.
“The question you are asking, you know the answer. There is tension. Nigerians, just like the rest of the world, were kept incommunicado for 90 days straight. Let’s not look at COVID-19 alone, the remaining 120 days were on and off. Don’t you think that those things will have impact on the society.
“And in any case, how to assess as government is this: What did you not do? As at today, there’s no single inmate of our facilities whose biometric has not been captured and that is the best we can do. We’re still working on DNA, which is another way of identifying them. We have met with all agencies, institutions that can use the biometric we have to trace and arrest them. They are doing their best. The most effective agency in capturing them is still the police force. They are doing wonderfully well.
“The technology that we expected will be effective in capturing them is not as effective. Like I would normally tell people, they can only run they cannot hide. If they go out of circulation for now but because they cannot change their biometric, whenever they come out they will be exposed and, therefore, arrested if they have not died.”
On what is being done to ensure the facilities no longer come under such attack, Aregbesola said: “We are doing the best we can to ensure, one that it will be difficult for anybody to attack our facilities. You may not know that some had attempted and we have sent them back to their maker. Just take it, it is no long game as usual. We are equipping our men to, on their own, defend those facilities. And those sisters agencies are equally upping their capacity to protect and defend our facilities. And we’re improving the design of our facilities to make it almost impregnable.
“So, whoever attempts to dare our will, will not live to tell the story.”
Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Shuaib Belgore, disclosed at least 159 Nigerians renounced their citizenships in 2022 alone while 150 Nigerians between 2006 and 2021.
Contents provided and/or opinions expressed here do not reflect the opinions of The Pacesetter Frontier Magazine or any employee thereof.
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