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Senate moves to end passport racketeering abroad 

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Senate moves to end passport racketeering abroad 

Senate has resolved to engage the Ministers of Interior and Foreign Affairs, the Comptroller General of Immigration, and ambassadors and consular officers on the need to immediately introduce measures to make it easy for  Nigerians abroad to renew their passports.

To achieve this, the upper legislative chamber has mandated its Committees on Interior and Foreign Affairs to meet with the ministers.

 

This followed the adoption of a motion titled: “Urgent need to remove the difficulty faced by Nigerians outside of the shores of Nigeria in renewing their Passport” sponsored by Senator Matthew Urhoghide (PDP Edo South).

In his lead debate on the motion, he noted with utmost concern the hardships faced by Nigerians in renewing their travel passport documents outside the shores of the country.

 

According to him, citizens worst hit by these unacceptable hardships are Nigerians in the United States of America, Canada, Italy, the Uk and Austria.

 

Urhoghide, for example, listed Washington DC; Atlanta; New York, and California as the only four centers (one in each of four states) where Nigerians can renew their passports in the United States of America.

He lamented that, “only four centers serve the whole of the United States is enough problem in itself until we have to consider the fact that Nigerians in the remaining forty six states in the US have to travel to the center closest to them, or sometimes to a center cheaper in monetary terms to access.”

 

He added due to the number of insufficient Centres, some Nigerians are on the road for days un-end to the renewal centers from their places of residence, a situation which affects their jobs, finances and even safety of life.

 

“All of the passport renewal applicants spend months trying to renew expired Passports. The only ones who get speedy attention are those that pay to the middlemen or directly to the embassy officials”, he said.

 

According to him, “visa issuance, passport renewal and several other services rendered by the Nigerian Embassies in many countries of the world have been turned into rackets by Nigerian officials and their foreign partners who connive to make life unbearable for their kinsmen that they were employed to serve.

 

“Payment for the renewal is done by using credit/debit cards of the holder or owner only for himself or herself. Payment for the children or any other family member is done using money order and this money order has to be sent by post. This has recorded missing money order and other hardships to parents and guardians.”

 

Urhoghide who described the development as “unacceptable” raised alarm that “the Nigerian image abroad is already bastardized and these practices are contributory since they have been going on for quite some time now.”

 

He warned that unless urgent steps are taken now and decisively, “everything we believe in as a nation and have worked for and continue to work to achieve will be undermined.

 

“Nigerians just cannot continue to treat fellow Nigerians the way even foreigners should not be treated.”

 

The lawmaker observed that, “Nigerian embassies officials cannot feign ignorance of the hardships faced by Nigerians, the existence of middlemen and the inadequacy of number of renewal centers.

 

Accordingly, the upper chamber mandated the Committees and those concerned to consider among measures to it possible to renew travel passports documents abroad by post; increasing the number of centers where passport can be renewed abroad; removing the existence of middlemen; and to hold regular and or periodic assessment of the activities of Nigeria’s foreign missions.

 

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