January 26, (THEWILL) – The Federal Government has trained 10,463 officers of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) on use of high-capacity weapons to protect its facilities across the country.
Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, disclosed this during a State House Briefing with newsmen on Thursday.
“We are mandating officers in charge of our facilities to not just carry pistols but high-capacity weapons. Before now, officers were just officers, if they hear a gunshot they will dive under their beds, but since the Kuje attack, we have changed that.
“They are now trained progressively to boldly confront themselves, and lead the action of repelling whoever attempts to violate our facilities and we have declared the facility red zone”, he said.
Aregbesola revealed ongoing plans to completely digitalise the processing of passports.
He noted that the Ministry was working to halt in-person documentation of information before the end of the current administration by May 29, 2023.
“On Passport issuance, we are digitalising the process and when this process is done, applicants do not need to bring in any documents. You can process the issuance online, completely.
“You don’t need an agent and there will be no racketeering, you have to hack into the system to assess. It is on now, but we will do it before we leave”, he said.
The minister admitted that the challenges surrounding the issuance of passports are “human-induced”, but it had not eroded the success of the Service. According to him, over 1.7 million passports were issued to Nigerians in 2022 alone.
“When you look at the number of applications, vis-a-vis the number of passports produced, we are over 80 percent”, he said.
Aregbesola also addressed the issue of Nigerians in the diaspora currently experiencing difficulty to return home due to expired passport.
He disclosed that the ministry was in talks with the Foreign Affairs Ministry to produce electronic temporary passports where Nigerians in the diaspora with an expired passports can still return home.
“On the temporary passport, we have issues with our sister ministry: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we are solving it, and when it is fully solved, our citizens outside Nigeria, when they have emergencies to come, and they don’t have a current passport.
“We have introduced a regime of returning home with an expired passport but as much as that won’t be a problem for us to take at our registration desk, some airlines might be difficult.
“So, we are discussing with South Africa. They do not permit the use of expired passports as a nation contrary to ICAO (The International Civil Aviation Organisation)’s regulation that says every citizen to a nation, dead or alive cannot be denied entry into his home which is logical.
“But the last time I sent a file to them, they said if the passport is not current, you cannot be taken in or out of their space.
“To avoid that, we introduced what we call temporary electronic passport – a one-way passport to return home. If you just have the data page on your passport, bring it to the embassy, at the rate of an appropriate fee, and you will get home”, he noted.
The minister added that the temporary passport is similar to the regular passport but it has only a page to bring Nigerians home. He however noted, “Unfortunately, we are still in negotiation with the foreign affairs ministry”.
On the ongoing achievements of the NCoS, the Minister noted that the agency is building custodian facilities in the six geopolitical zones of the country adding that the one situated in Janguza, Kano State, was about 90 per cent completed.
“The 3,000 inmates capacity ultra-modern custodian is an innovation that is almost parallel, it is a custodian village. One of the highlights of that facility is that you don’t use firewood, but the excretes of the inmates to produce biogas to cook their food, among others”, he added.
He said the NCoS purchased 799 vehicles to move inmates to and from courts and other operations including ambulances and vehicles for farm inspections.
Aregbesola also said 420 inmates ran various degrees and postgraduate degree programmes; 100 others enrolled for WAEC and NECO, while the Service recruited 7,745 officers from 2015 to date.
“We will still recruit more to protect our services, we are already asking for approval to recruit 5,000 men to the Arms squad of the service and 2,000 into its intelligence unit”, he said.