The Comptroller-General (CG) of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Muhammad Babandede, has ordered the closure of Abia State passport office as a result of attack on the facility by hoodlums.
The CG made this known yesterday while briefing journalists on developments in the agency with regards to efforts made for the smooth introduction of a new passports regime and the clearance of backlog of applications.
Babandede, who alleged that one of the senior staff members was lost in the attack, said no passport was destroyed in the inferno.
He said the agency was collaborating with the Nigeria police and other security agencies to secure and protect passports offices across the country.
According to him, “We are very sad that we have to closed down our passports office in Abia State because it was attacked and part of the building was burnt down.
“This is very sad, but we are lucky that the passports section was safe, so all the passports produced are intact, otherwise it would have been worse.”
Babandede, while lamenting that the building was one of its newly built and unveiled offices, called for the protection of critical national infrastructure to avoid waste of national resources.
He said: “I have instructed our officers to defend and protect our fatherland because they have a duty to keep the stability and integrity of our country. We are also working with the police and other security agencies to tackle this challenge.”
Babandede, while also updating on progress made to ensure seamless passport registration, renewal and collection process, said the new passports regime which began on June 1, 2021, has been extended by a week to enable applicants who are yet to collect their passports do so in compliance with COVID-19 protocols and to avoid overcrowding.
He explained that already, 230, 500 passports have been produced and distributed with 43,350 yet to be collected by applicants.
The CG, however, urged all who received messages to endeavour to come and collect their passports as directed because the schedule is such that applicants are invited in batches of 50 to come for collection.
He said only few passports are left to be cleared, and this would be done in the next few days.
(Cambridge University Press, January, 2021) By Professor Damilola S. Olawuyi, SAN, FCIArb, Professor of Law and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti
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