The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) says the Nigeria High Commission in UK was out of line on issuing a suspension order on e-passport issuance.
According to TheCable, the commission recently announced the suspension of biometric capturing for persons interested in applying for the e-passport.
The commission said the decision was taken over issues surrounding assault of staff members.
But in a letter seen by TheCable, which was signed by I.J. Idris, the acting comptroller-general (CG) of NIS, and addressed to the commission, the NIS said it is only the CG that has the power to suspend issuance of Nigerian passports worldwide.
According to the letter which was dated March 25, 2022, the acting CG expressed optimism that the situation experienced by the commission would be resolved soon, adding that the challenges experienced are not unusual considering the recent policy changes being implemented on passport issuance.
“In reference to your decision to suspend the issuance of the new e-Enhanced passports in your High Commission, kindly permit me to respectfully draw your attention to provisions of Section 9(1) of the Immigration Act 2015, which clearly stipulates that the power to issue Nigerian passports is solely vested in the Comptroller General of Immigration,” the document reads.
“Subsection (3)(b) of the same Section explains that the power to issue passports in Diplomatic Missions abroad is delegated to the Immigration Attaché serving in that Mission.
“Therefore, it it implicit to note that the power to suspend the issuance of all Nigerian passports across the world is the exclusive reserve of the Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service.
“Kindly note that since this is a policy issue, it may have been appropriate if the Commission’s concerns were shared with the Service, through the Minister of Interior, so as to collectively forge a sustainable solution to these operational challenges.”
The NIS added that it is currently working on measures to “ease the bottlenecks” linked to passport issuance.
“Your concerns, and indeed, the pains of Nigerian passport applicants in the UK, have reinforced the need to escalate our efforts towards finding a lasting solution to these observed challenges and not to relent in our efforts towards addressing them,” the agency said.
“In this regard, and in order not to truncate the process midway into the implementation of the policy, the Nigeria Immigration Service, being the custodian and legal administrator of Nigerian passports, has directed all its Attachés under your High Commission to continue the issuance of the e-Enhanced passports on one hand, while working closely with the High Commission to resolve the observed operational challenges in the shortest possible time.”