The Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Muhammed Babandede, has admitted the high rate of corruption in the NIS but blamed the scarcity of booklets for passports as a major factor.
He subsequently apologised to Nigerians for their bad experiences at the passport offices nationwide but urged applicants to make use of the agency’s online services as this would reduce the rate of extortion.
Babandede said this during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme on Monday.
When asked if he was aware of the fact that Nigerians offered bribes to immigration officer to get their passports, Babandede responded, “I apologise to Nigerians and I am not here to defend any officer. Any officer who takes money for passports is usually punished but we have challenges.
“One of the challenges we have is the issue of scarcity of booklets. When there is scarcity, the desire to rush over others is there. The government is doing everything it can to make sure that we can produce passports in Nigeria and get them as quickly as we can.
“There is nothing I can do if there are no booklets. The scarcity remains an issue.”
Babandede said there was a need to create an institutional processing of passport.
This, he said, led to the launching of the modern passport processing centre in Abuja last month.
He said the centre would be replicated in other major cities in the country, noting that this would curb extortion at the passport centres.
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