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Reps tackle Immigration boss for printing Nigerian passports abroad

Citing the security implications, the House of Representatives has faulted the production of Nigerian passports by a private company  aboard.

Vice Chairman, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Timehin Adelegbe, stated   this  yesterday  in Abuja, at the public hearing on incessant malpractices associated with diplomatic postings and deliberate draining of resources.

He added  that the security features contained in the Nigerian passport should be guarded, adding that printing of Nigerian passport by a private firm aboard  was abnormal.

He said that most Nigerians were unhappy with the process and collection of passports, adding that it was time the issue was addressed.

In his reaction, the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Mohammed Babandede, said it was his greatest desire to produce Nigerian passports within the country.

“Our wish is to produce even a booklet of Nigerian passport in our compound,” he said.

Speaking on the issue of nepotism in NIS foreign posting, Babandede  disclosed  that officers often go the extra mile to lobby their way as they consider such redeployments the most lucrative.

He, however, said that since he assumed office, he had initiated  transparency on foreign posting as 50 per cent was reserved for officers who attended training school and 10 per cent for officers who had received award.

He said that Nigeria had 47 diplomatic missions worldwide , adding that officers were only saddled with issuing visas and handling traveling documents.

Babandede added that fees realised from these were usually remitted to the Federal Government, adding that contrary to the $40 million generated in 2019, in 2020 it generated $20 million due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said that the extra charges being collected by Nigeria’s foreign missions would soon be addressed, adding that it had been a major issue.

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He urged Nigerians abroad to be organized  and responsible in their desire to obtain passports and other documents, stressing  that there was the necessity to respect Nigeria’s mission abroad.

Buba Yakub  said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs remained the first mirror through which the entire world sees Nigeria, hence, “whatever happens to it must be of concern to us.”

“We must, therefore, resolve to work together to achieve the Foreign Service of our fondest dreams; and the time to do this, for me, personally, is today,” he said.

The  Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila,  noted that there was hardly a country he visited that there were no sorry stories of Nigeria’s missions.

“I visited many, right from my time as Minority Leader to House Leader and I can recall such stories.

“Rest assured that it is not the intention of the House of Reps to act in a manner that singles out any one individual or group, neither is it our desire to take punitive action as a matter of politics.

“We will conduct a thorough review of what is, by every standard, one of our nation’s premier institutions. And we will work with all who bear a responsibility to try to fix what needs fixing and rebuild what is broken,” he said.

Also, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyema,  lauded Babandede, disclosing  that he remained one of the finest officers he had met.

He blamed the social media on some of the reports about Nigeria’s foreign missions, stressing  that most of the stories  posted on social media were  false.

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