The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has faulted the decision of the Nigeria High Commission in the UK to suspend e-passport issuance
The high commission on Saturday announced the suspension of biometrics capturing in the UK for persons applying for e-passports.
The commission said the biometrics capturing was suspended after a meeting to deliberate on issues surrounding the assault of its staff members.
The Nigerian government had launched the enhanced e-passport to address issues of forgery and improve the application process.
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The commission noted that the suspension would be effective from Monday, March 28.
“The staff of the High Commission are currently being assaulted on regular basis on account of attendant frustrations, particularly by Nigerians who travel long distances from Scotland, Northern Ireland, Manchester, Cardiff, Birmingham, etc., to the Mission in London without positive resolution of their respective consular issues.
“Nigerians with dual citizenship desirable of renewing their British Passports and those seeking the issuance of British Resident Permit (BRP) are also usually on edge because of the inability of the Mission to resolve their legitimate needs and requirements,” the commission had said in the statement.
However, in a letter addressed to the commission by I.J. Idris, the acting comptroller-general (CG), the NIS said it is only the CG that has the power to suspend the issuance of Nigerian passports worldwide.
Idris noted that the service is currently working on measures to “ease the bottlenecks” linked to passport issuance adding that the challenges experienced are not unusual considering the recent policy changes being implemented on passport issuance.
“In reference to your decision to suspend the issuance of the new e-Enhanced passports in your High Commission, kindly permit me to respectfully draw your attention to provisions of Section 9(1) of the Immigration Act 2015, which clearly stipulates that the power to issue Nigerian passports is solely vested in the Comptroller General of Immigration,” the document sighted by Cable reads.
“Subsection (3)(b) of the same Section explains that the power to issue passports in Diplomatic Missions abroad is delegated to the Immigration Attaché serving in that Mission.
“Therefore, it is implicit to note that the power to suspend the issuance of all Nigerian passports across the world is the exclusive reserve of the Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service.
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“In this regard, and in order not to truncate the process midway into the implementation of the policy, the Nigeria Immigration Service, being the custodian and legal administrator of Nigerian passports, has directed all its Attachés under your High Commission to continue the issuance of the e-Enhanced passports on one hand, while working closely with the High Commission to resolve the observed operational challenges in the shortest possible time.”