Passport Scarcity Fuels Racketeering Among Immigration Officials

A lady, Blessing Ekawu, recently got married. Her groom works outside the shores of Nigeria, thus the need for her to travel and join him, in preparation for starting a new home. In August, she filed an application with the Nigeria Immigration Service in Abuja for the issuance of an international passport to enable her travel to the country of residence of her husband, but that dream has remained in limbo as she has been unable to obtain the passport till date. 

The frustration of Ekawu has become the lot of so many Nigerians, who have been in the queue for more than 3 months, waiting to either renew their passport or process a new one at Immigration offices across the country.

At each of the passport issuing centers visited, Daily Trust on Sunday reporters met exasperated individuals who lamented the frustration and pain they have been going through in the process of obtaining the travel document.

Findings by our reporters show that not a few Nigerians have missed scholarship slots for further studies, work-related opportunities, and life-saving engagements, amongst others while waiting to be issued the passport.  

At the NIS headquarters in Sauka, Abuja, a young woman who gave her name simply as Linda, said she had been battling to secure the passport since she filed an application over three months ago. Every time she visits the passport office “they keep saying it is not ready.”  

“I just got an opportunity for a fully-funded internship in Data Analytics and I have since gone past my schedule resumption, but all I get from my own government is that they will call me when the booklet is ready. For how long will I continue to wait?”  

The booklet scarcity is not limited to passport offices within the country as the social media is replete with a series of videos and posts from Nigerians, complaining of the hardship in obtaining a passport from the various embassies across the world.

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