As of yesterday, 140,000 international passport booklets were still unclaimed at issuance locations across Nigeria, according to the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS).
It expressed worry over the growing number of Nigerians who submit their passport applications online, but fail to pick up their printed passports from Passport Offices around the country, blaming the Service for their problems.
Comptroller General Isah Jere said that poor lines of communication and the use of intermediaries to request international passports were to blame for the large number of passports that had gone unclaimed.
According to Jere, the NIS is spreading awareness in Nigeria about the dangers of using passport expeditors.
Speaking via the Migration Directorate’s Assistant Comptroller-General (ACG), Abdullahi Usman, he added that it had become impossible to contact the owners of the 140,000 unclaimed passports because of inaccurate or incomplete information provided by third-party actors.
When Fact-Finding visited the Murtala Muhammed International Airport and the Alausa Passport Office, Usman suggested that people who had misplaced their appointment slips or had forgotten when they were scheduled to pick up their passports check with the Immigration Offices where they had originally applied.
Applicants should not utilize third parties to apply for passports, the ACG said during an inspection in Alausa, because those individuals often fail to provide proper information, including contact information like as phone numbers and email addresses.
The Comptroller-General “has noted that there are a large number of uncollected passports in all passport offices, and we have around 100,000 passports unclaimed; in addition, we still have approximately 40,000 passports manufactured lately that have not been claimed.
Once you’ve done your part and others still haven’t picked it up, it’s natural to feel anxious, and it’s because of this fear that we still aren’t quite there. In order to return lost or stolen passports to their rightful owners, the CGI formed the committee. Back in the field, we realized why some of the spots were still unoccupied.
As of yet, we have not gathered the passports. Production has been a problem in the past for many reasons, but collecting has emerged as a new obstacle. Passport collecting is halted due to inaccurate data.
There is no way to get in touch with the applicant because their provided address is inaccurate, their phone numbers are incorrect, and their email addresses are not working. The applicant cannot be notified by phone or email that their passports are available since the third party has their own contact information, he explained.
Usman encouraged people to apply for passports and promised them to those who did so properly.
As part of his research, Usman stopped by MMIA Command, where he spoke with Comptroller Adeola Adesokan, who gave him a breakdown of passenger aid and revenue generated in 2022.
According to what Adesokan informed the CGI rep, the command processed 358,953 passengers and 51,608 visa on arrival (VOA) applicants from January to December 2022, with 32,789 males and 15,819 females generating a total of $4,916,341.
According to Adesokan, there are not enough check-in desks to handle the estimated 3,000 people that travel through the airport every day, a number that doubles around the holidays.
She also reported to the CGI the digitization of the clearing process, which will allow arriving passengers to complete their clearance paperwork on their own time at home, then sync it with the airport via QR code.