This was contained in a statement published on social media by Ukan P Kurugh after several investigation to draw attention of the public over the unlawful and unprofessional act. He laments how the Immigration control officer charges extra on applications and renewal of passports.
It seems that the problem applicants encounter in the bid to obtain international passport at the Makurdi office of Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) may not end soon.
My independent investigation shows that applicants now have to take the risk of travelling to Nasarawa State to obtain their passports. This is because of alleged ongoing extortion by the Passport Control Office (PCO) in Makurdi.
Several people have complained about having to part with addional sum, to which there is no evidence of payment. The money, they alleged, is meant to fast track completion of the process.
According to NIS sources, by law, a successful passport applicant is entitled to collect his passport within 24 hours from the time of supplying the service with his informations.
“Usually, it takes 24 hours to run the necessary checks before one can be issued a passport,” a source at the Makurdi office of NIS, who would not want her name public confided.
Unfortunately, applicants are alleging deliberate attempts to frustrate them. I had cause to speak with a number of them who alleged they are asked to pay Ten Thousand Naira (N10, 000. 00), in excess of official rates.
How is this done? The excuse has always been that passport booklets are not available. And a proposal will be put to you and those that wouldn’t want to keep checking in to find when the passport is available will pay the additional sum to facilitate ease of providing the booklet. Sadly, this additional cost is without any evidence of payment.
For instance, first time applicants are required to pay a fee of Twenty Four Thousand, Five Hundred Naira (N24, 500. 00) only while renewal attracts Twenty Five Thousand, Five Hundred Naira (N25, 500. 00) only as cost.
However, at the Makurdi office, applicants have to pay additional Ten Thousand Naira (N10, 000. 00) as condition precedent getting the passport within the stipulated time. That means rather than pay N24, 500. 00, first time applicants have to pay N35, 500. 00 only, to get their passport within 24 hours while renewal is put at N45, 500. 00 only.
“Change of name due to marriage is Eighteen Thousand Naira (18, 000. 00) only, in case of online registration,” my source further informed. She however said the Makurdi office collects Fifty Thousand Naira (N50, 000. 00) only from applicants.
Checks have shown that applicants pay Forty Five Thousand Naira (N45, 000. 00) only for change of name due to marriage in the neighbouring Nasarawa State.
So, the disparity in cost of getting an international passport in Makurdi and Lafia, which is higher in the case of Makurdi and the attendant delays have compelled several persons in the state to take the risk of travelling to Lafia for their passport.
EFCC and ICPC may wish to turn on their search lights into what is happening in our immigration offices.
By Ukan P Kurugh