The Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) has said over 140,000 international passport booklets remain unclaimed at its issuing offices across the country.
It expressed worry over the trend, where Nigerians blame the service for not meeting their needs for the essential travel document.
NIS Comptroller General Isah Jere, who announced this yesterday in Lagos, cited communication challenges and the use of third party agents to apply for international passports as the major factors for the increasing number of unclaimed passports.
Jere spoke through an Assistant Comptroller General (ACG) in the Migration Directorate of the service, Abdullahi Usman, head of a committee on unclaimed passports nationwide.
The NIS boss said efforts to reach the applicants for the 140,000 unclaimed passports had become difficult due to either wrong or incomplete information supplied by third party players or contact details.
Speaking during a fact-finding visit to the Alausa Passport Office and the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, both in Ikeja, Usman advised applicants who have either lost their slips or forgotten their appointment dates to check Immigration offices where they applied to pick up their passports.
The ACG, who spoke after inspecting activities at the Alausa office of the NIS, urged passport applicants to shun the use of third parties.
Usman said: “Why we are here is a directive from the Comptroller General. He has observed that there are a lot of uncollected passports in all the passport offices. We have about 100,000 unclaimed passports. Apart from that, we still have about 40,000 passports produced recently, all unclaimed.
“This thing is causing us a worry because once you’ve done your own bit and people have not collected it, it causes a worry. It’s based on this that we are not there yet. That is why the CGI set up the committee to make sure the unclaimed passports are clearly given to the owners.
“Again, we came into the field and were able to understand why some were not claimed. What are the reasons we have done the passports and collection has not happened? Before, production was the issue, due to various factors. But now, it is no longer an issue; collection has become the issue now.
“The reason passports are not collected is due to unreliable data: the addresses are incomplete, phone numbers and emails, which are used to quickly reach applicants, are usually not correct. So, communication cannot take place with the applicants, hence no feedback.
“This is because the third party uses his or her own phone number and email address. So, we cannot communicate with the applicants directly to tell them their passports are ready.”
Usman also visited the MMIA Command of the service where Comptroller Adeola Adesokan hinted him on what the NIS hoped to accomplish in the new year.
She gave a breakdown of what the command recorded in 2022 in the number of passengers recorded and the revenue generated.
Adesokan told Usman that last year, the command facilitated 358,953 passengers from January to December and recorded 51,608 passengers arriving via the Visa on Arrival (VOA).
Also, the NIS yesterday unveiled a central enhanced e-Passport production centre for three states in the North to serve Kano, Jigawa and Katsina states.
In a statement yesterday in Abuja, NIS spokesman Tony Akuneme said the service sited the centre in Kano to bring improved passport processing closer to teeming applicants in Kano and its environs for effective and efficient service delivery.
The spokesman said Comptroller General Isah Jere, who was represented by the Assistant Comptroller General in charge of Standard Passport, Sadat Hassan, assured Nigerians that the passport reform process was in progress, especially the programme designed for those who returned from different parts of the globe during the Yuletide.
He said the NIS intended to keep the two-week processing timeframe open to those in the Diaspora until January 31 when the programme will end.
“We reiterate our official position that passport applicants should please avoid using third parties but go online and make their applications and payments themselves at passport.immigration.gov.ng.
“We continue to deal with the challenges of recalcitrant touts as well as few bad eggs amongst the personnel who are bent on sabotaging the reform process,” Jere said.
Inaugurating the facility at the Farm Centre in Kano, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, who was represented by the Commissioner for Budget, Alhaji Danazumi Gwarzo, congratulated the NIS for making Nigeria the first country in Africa to roll out the enhanced e-Passport.
Also, Assistant Comptroller Generals of Immigration Service have been deployed to some zonal offices across the country to ensure that over 100,000 uncollected/unclaimed passports are handed over to the owners as quickly as possible.
Jere, who ordered the deployment of the ACGs, said there should be no reason for a delay in handing over the documents to the owners.
A statement by Akuneme said Lagos topped the list of uncollected passports with 40,000 produced but yet to be handed over to the owners.
NAUTH Resident Doctors Suspend Strike
Resident doctors under the aegis of the Association of Resident Doctors, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, have suspended its five-day warning strike.
The group said it considered the plight of stranded patients who are in need of critical and emergency care before arriving at the decision to suspend the strike after an emergency meeting on Friday.
The doctors had embarked on a five-day warning strike on Wednesday to express displeasure over the assault meted out on one of its members by relatives of a deceased patient, whom the doctor was helping to resuscitate.
According to a statement signed by its President, Dr Ndukwe Chinwe, and General Secretary, Dr Egbue Obiora, on Saturday, the body said it unanimously resolved to suspend the strike, resume emergency services by 8 am on Saturday and routine clinic services/activities by Monday.
The doctors said it observed that the hospital’s management has shown commitment by ensuring the arrest of the culprits and has promised to follow the matter to a logical conclusion.
They also noted the commitment of the hospital towards fulfilling all the other demands outlined by the doctors.
The statement read, “Recall that on January 25, doctors under the aegis of Association of Resident Doctors Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi embarked on a five-day warning strike to express displeasure over the assault meted out on one of our members by relatives of a deceased patient, whom the doctor was helping to resuscitate.
“In an emergency general meeting held on Friday, January 27, 2023, the members observed that the hospital management has shown commitment by ensuring the arrest of the culprits and have promised to follow the matter to a logical conclusion.
“The management has begun the enforcement of compliance to visiting hours in the wards and has put measures to ensure that patient relatives are not found inside the wards at odd hours. A memo has been issued to that effect.
“The Hospital Management has also reiterated their commitment to fulfil all the other demands outlined by ARD.
“Congress observed the lamentations of patients who could not assess healthcare during the period of the industrial action since resident doctors make up the bulk of the doctors in the teaching hospital.
“The body unanimously agreed that the hospital management has shown a quick response to their demands which led to a total shutdown of services offered by Resident Doctors in NAUTH.
“The congress unanimously resolved to suspend the strike, resume emergency services by 8 am on Saturday and routine clinic services/activities by Monday 8 am.
“Congress also resolved that the exco should continue to engage the hospital management until other demands are met. That any other form of assault on any doctor will be met with stringent measures.
“That a rapid response team be instituted to quickly tackle this menace on the spot in the event of any re-occurrence.”
The group, therefore, commended the management of NAUTH for its swift response towards putting measures to forestall a future repeat of this condemnable act and ensuring that the majority of our demands received the needed attention.
NIPOST Workers To Begin Strike On Monday
Workers of the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) staff are threatening to embark on industrial action from Monday, January 30th over alleged abandonment by the Federal Government.
The protesting staff urged the Federal Government to urgently intervene before the industrial action commences.
The General Secretary of the Senior Staff Association of Statutory Corporations and Government-Owned Companies, Ayo Olorunfemi, led the protest on Friday.
According to Olorunfemi, several staff members of the service have not been receiving any form of capital funding from Federal Government in the last 15 years.
He also asked the government to beam its searchlight on the finances of the agency.
“All we are saying is this: Reform must be open; [it] must be clear. Our fear must be addressed and the reform must be in the overall interest of Nigeria. Any reform that is targeting some individuals will not be accepted.
“Therefore, this is another process. We have been going on strike and they have been talking to us to suspend them,” he said.
But this time around, according to Olorunfemi, the industrial action is targeted solely at actualising a much-needed reform process.
“We expect a suspension of the process. Let the next government come and follow due process in ensuring that we have a sustainable reform procedure.
“We’re expecting that a percentage, even if it is not more than two percent of that fund, be released to NIPOST for infrastructure and the welfare of staff.
“Immediately the so-called Finance Bill was passed into law, the money was packed away. One naira has not been given to NIPOST and NIPOST is not on any capital budget of the Federal Government,” he said.
Lagos Estate Residents Lament Ordeal With Popular Gospel Singer, Testimony Jaga
Residents of Alagbado Estate Road in Lagos state have raised alarm over threats to their lives by a popular Nigerian gospel singer, Mr. Salau Olayiwola, known by the stage name, Testimony Jaga alleging that he has been unleashing terror on them.
One of the victims identified as Mrs. Agbede Abimbola alleged that the singer poured urine and water on her after she accused him of obstructing vehicular movement in the estate.
The victim, Mrs. Abimbola, told Vanguard that her trouble with him started after she invited her friend to deliver frozen foods to her in preparation for her son’s 15th birthday, last week.
According to her, when I confronted him over the way the whole streets are blocked during his church sessions, he unleashed his church boys on me and I was beaten and bathed in urine.
Speaking further, Mrs. Abimbola said she was still on the ground after being beaten when water was poured on her and also urine which splashed on some of the neighbors who tried to help her get up. “Jaga walked up to me and said it was women like me that would molest me. Immediately he said that with little strength left in me, I was about holding his clothes when he moved back and my hand grabbed his necklace. He stepped back further while my hand was at the chain and the chain cut. Immediately, his members took the chain from me.
“Jaga told his members not to let me go until I provide the chain. They also descended on my friend Agnes and held her on the ground. After the confrontation, we reported he case to the police.
Recounting the incident, Mrs. Abimbola’s friend, who gave her name as Agnes John narrated that when she entered the street, the road was blocked. “I was honking so that I could drive in; no one was ready to move. So, someone walked up to me and said that they were holding a programme and I should park my car.
“I parked, locked my car and walked to my friend’s house to inform her that I could not drive in because a programme was being held on the road and she would need to go and get the frozen foods from the car herself. She told me it must be Jaga because he holds his street gospel movement every Tuesday. So, I went along with her to the car to pack the frozen foods. It was while we were going that we met Jaga on the road and because I don’t know him, my friend pointed at him, showing me that it was him.
“Immediately, I called his attention. I thought he would walk out of the crowd to answer me but he said I should come, which I did. I told him whenever he is holding his programme he should create a space for others because we all are road users and it won’t be nice for him to disturb others with his programme. While I was leaving, I heard noise and when I turned back, I saw my friend on the ground with a crowd descending on her. I had to call people nearby to join them in the commotion and in the process of explaining to them what happened, the police arrived with their patrol vehicle and took me and my friend away for interrogation, leaving Jaga behind.
When contacted, the singer denied the story stating that he had nothing more to say as the case is with the police.
Lagos State police spokesman, Benjamin Hundeyin told Vanguard when called on phone: : “I am not aware of the incident but I will contact Alagbado DPO and get back to you.”