Passport Racketeering: Undercover Agents To Be Deployed At Passport Offices

Aregbesola's one year in Interior Ministry:: Reforms dwarfed by internal  security challenges

Richard Ginika Izuora

The Minister of Interior, Mr Rauf Aregbesola on Thursday, April 22, said government is taking seriously allegations of touting, extortion and other sharp practices by passport officers nationwide and abroad.

Aregbesola, said that going forward undercover agents would be deployed in passport offices across the nation and at the Nigerians missions abroad.

He said the country had in the past witnessed several challenges, which included, shortage of booklets, touting, racketeering, inflating the cost of passports being issued to ineligible persons, and so on.

“We are turning around the entire passport application process in a way that is going to be easy, seamless, as well as transparent.

“We will also accord human dignity to applicants and also fulfill citizenship integrity.

“Therefore, I am declaring a zero-tolerance stance to all forms of touting. No applicant will be made to pay any illegitimate fees.

“We are going to embed security operatives, seen and unseen, in all our passport offices. They will wear body cameras.

“They will also detect and report any form of solicitations; inflation; improper communications; extortion; diversion; hoarding; as well as other corrupt practices.

“Applicants will have no basis for further communication officers, other than to complete their application process and also leave the venue.

“The date for the collection of their passports or any challenge to the application will be communicated to them.

“The technology for the efficient running of this system has been acquired and will likewise be deployed.

“Those caught will be dealt with according to the law,” Aregbesola said.

According to the Minister, an ombudsman will also be created for members of the public to receive complaints and reports on officers trying to deviate from prescribed guidelines and subversion of the process.

Aregbesola explained that two special centres for expedited services had been created; adding that, the special centres would run on a public-private partnership basis.

He said “we are publishing on our website the list of the backlog of passports; that are ready which are yet to be collected by the owners.

“They will be required to go to the state commands to collect them.

“With these changes, it is my firm belief that we will arrive at a new dawn; in the passport application processing,” he added.

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