FG reduces waiting time for passports, review visa-on-arrival policy – moneyamebo

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The Federal Ministery of Internal Affairs disclosed it will review visa policy of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and the passport policy introduced by the Buhari administration to reduce bottlenecks.

Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, made this known at a media briefing in Abuja on Wednesday, where he disclosed efforts being made to assuage the sufferings of people seeking Nigeria’s international passport.

He said the government has set up a committee headed by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry. He said the committee has the Director of Joint Services as secretary while Comptroller General of the NIS and other stakeholders would serve as members.

Tunji-Ojo said: “The committee’s responsibility is to review our current visa and passport policy because Nigeria is not thrash and cannot be treated as such. It is unacceptable. Visa is based on reciprocity everywhere in the world, even by international convention. And that is why we are seriously looking at our visa-on-arrival policy.

“There is no point when somebody who does not allow me into his country based on visa-on-arrival, comes here through visa-on-arrival and gets services I don’t have in his country. I don’t think it is the right thing to do. We have a committee in place already, and it has two more weeks to submit its report to me, to help us review the policy.”

Giving an update on clearance of passport backlog, the minister said: “The issue of passport shouldn’t be a privilege but a right of every Nigerian. Visa is a privilege but a passport is a right, and we are glad to be able to hand back the rights of the people to Nigerians.”

He explained: “When we came, we inherited a backlog of 204,332 passport applications. We gave a marching order, and by October 1, we had cleared the entire backlog. On September 7, we promised to sort out the backlog in two weeks. I apologise to Nigerians. We made it in three weeks, and we are grateful for where we are today.”

He added that collection of a N5,000 compliance fee from applicants by immigration officials is illegal, asking affected members of the public to lodge complainants in his office.

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