By Adepote Arowojobe
Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has commenced massive issuance of passports to intending travellers to clear the backlog of applications caused by non-availability of booklets.
A source from the service told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that the NIS recently took delivery of new passport booklets which were distributed to all passport offices nationwide.
NAN reports that many intending travellers had difficulties in obtaining international passports since the beginning of the year due to non-availability of passport booklets.
NAN learnt that the immigration high command also directed all passport offices to extend their working hours to 2 p.m. on Saturdays in order to clear the backlog of passport applications.
“Our working hours have been extended to Saturdays; we now work from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.
“The extension is to enable us treat the backlog of international passport requests by Nigerians,’’ a senior immigration official told NAN at the Passport Office, Ikoyi, Lagos.
He explained that the booklets were printed in Malaysia adding that the non-availability was caused by scarcity of foreign exchange.
He assured that the extended working hours would enable the service to clear the backlog within a short period.
“We are sure all matters relating to request and collection of international passports will be resolved in due course,’’ the source said.
Mr Adele Yussuf, an applicant who spoke to NAN at Ikoyi Passport Office, expressed delight at the way the NIS was handling the processing passport applications.
He expressed optimism that the extended working hours would help in clearing the backlog of applications.
Mr Osugbo Emeka, another applicant, urged the service to process the existing applications before working on new requests.