Following the countless cases of fraud perpetrated on passport applicants by alleged touts posing as Immigration officers, the Ikoyi Passport Office of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Lagos, has renewed its onslaught against touts who give the organization a bad name.
The Ikoyi Passport Control Officer (PCO), Deputy Controller of Immigration, Kayode Eniolorunda, who made this disclosure, said he started his tenure with a vow to sanitize the unit.
Eniolorunda, who was reacting to recent allegations that the Ikoyi immigration officers were fond of extorting applicants, said corruption has no place under his watch.
He said upon assumption of office in September 2015, he had pledged to ensure that all applicants are attended to within four hours in the absence of any unforeseen circumstances arising from systems breakdown.
While admitting that the issue of touts besieging passport offices and swindling people of their hard earned money, is a big problem, he said the Ikoyi unit was on top of their game as the elite passport procurement unit.
e said the unit has arrested countless touts and have ensured that they are being prosecuted within the ambits of the law, with some still in the custody of the courts.
He said, “Touting is a big problem that we have but we have been sensitizing applicants on the need to shun them and go to the right source. We placed such messages strategically around our offices and outside.
“Also, our officers have been trained to look out for them. We raid them all the time. Sometimes we go to the police to assist in the raiding and they do help out. Some of the touts we arrested are still in court awaiting adequate prosecution. The challenge is that immediately they are released, they will return back to touting again.
“But the good thing the constant raid has achieved is that they are now operating outside Ikoyi Passport Office and not within our premises again. It baffles us that a literate person will drive down to the passport office and then patronize a tout instead of coming in to be attended to.”
While addressing the issue of last week where an applicant alleged that he was poorly attended to, he explained that what happened was a glitch that was resolved same day.
He said, “The rotating dial and the control panel were faulty so it delayed production. This only took one hour before the engineer fixed it and work resumed.
“In such cases, when applicants have issues, they are supposed to approach the complaint section which I strategically placed to face the applicant’s hall. To ensure everyone is attended to within four hours, our officers address them in the morning, in the afternoon and late in the afternoon.
“The issue is that some of the challenges are beyond us when passports delay. The entire process involves the agencies that control payment, those at the Central Data Base where approval is needed before we print. Another issue is network failure. Because we operate the automated system, once a system is down, all others won’t work too. Despite this, I am committed to ensuring that Ikoyi Office is the foremost passport office.”