NewsE-Passport: Group Faults Interior Minister Over New Automated Passport Issuance

E-Passport: Group Faults Interior Minister Over New Automated Passport Issuance

GTBCO FOOD DRINL

January 11, (THEWILL) – A Transparency Group, Action Against Corrupt and Institutional Fraud (ACIF), has faulted the Minister of Interior, Hon. Olubunmi Ojo, over the newly launched automated passport application process to expedite passport acquisition for Nigerians, declaring it as a shoddy policy that will make passport processing and issuance more difficult and cumbersome.

According to the Group, the new policy will make a mockery of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) and make Passport processing and issuance difficult with the opening of a new platform for touts in Business Centers around the country.

The National Coordinator of the group, Dr Seun Aborinde, said despite numerous petitions and complaints over the alleged anomalies noticed in the new policy, the Minister, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo and the Comptroller General of the NIS, CG ooCaroline Wuraola Adepoju, have allegedly succeeded in opening a striving business for touts and engage cronies in the automation contract. This must be investigated.

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Aborinde also queried the processes that led to the bidding and award of the contract concerning the automated passport issuance, alleging that due process was not followed, “We challenged the Minister to bring out the advertorial, bidding process and approval and the companies that bidded for the project. We have it on good authority that they are close friends and family members. Nigeria is not for sale.

“The new policy is a disaster waiting to happen. The NIS, will rather go through more criticism and bad blood for a rushed contract, scam and shams to win political applause and put officers in bad books, Ask experts in the Passport Issuance and Administration and they will confirm this is a scam. This is a disaster waiting to happen. The automation process, which did not undergo public enlightenment or necessary advertisement, has been launched in a country where the vast majority have no access to computers or technology. They will rely on a third party and business Centres that are unregulated, not commissioned by the service.”

On the allegation of mishandling of the Interior Ministry against the Minister, Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, the National Coordinator of the group, noted that though the allegation did not come as a surprise because of the purported antecedents and his alleged questionable dealings in the House of Representatives with the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), imbroglio cast a shadow over the contractual relationships on the new policy and others handled by the Ministry.

According to the group, ”the Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, has since been under the group’s watch and had bragged that he is an in-law to Mr President and untouchable. When he was appointed, Minister of another Ministry, he quickly lobbied for the Interior leading to an overnight reposting, now he has not finished with Correctional Reforms, Civil Defence activities and Fire Service, knowing the vulnerability of the extension mogul, the CG, Caroline Wuraola Adepoju, of the Immigration Service that was officially retired on May 31, 2023, after 35 years of service.”

“She lobbied for One Month Extension, later she was given Six Months and she started the campaign around the Yoruba states, to meet Obas and Kabiyesis and later to Igboland, finally her lobbying paid off with a Confirmation as substantive Comptroller General, depriving well-qualified and promising officers of rising because of these illegal extensions which are not in the Public Service Rules”

The NIS in a statement on Monday, said the launch followed a live demonstration session, hosted by the Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, unveiling the functionality of the new system to stakeholders from across the country on Saturday in Abuja.

The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), on Monday, launched the automated passport application process to expedite passport acquisition, but at last, it has just opened another chapter on a series of corruption in the system.

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