THE Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has revealed that approximately 97,000 passport booklets issued across the country, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), remain uncollected.
The Service Public Relations Officer (SPRO), Tony Akuneme, a Comptroller, disclosed this during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, saying Lagos State accounted for half of the uncollected passports.
Akuneme mentioned the challenge of reaching out to the owners due to inadequate documentation caused by the involvement of third-party agents in the passport processing.
“Some of them engaged agents to help them in their passport processing, and these agents might be doing for a lot of persons.
“They end up dropping wrong contacts and thereby making it difficult to reach out to the owners of these passports when they are ready for collection. This is a big challenge,“ he said.
The Acting Comptroller-General, Caroline Adepoju, recently declared a state of emergency on passport collection to draw attention to the need for passport reforms and improvement of the passport collection process.
He acknowledged that many applicants faced difficulties related to human and technical factors, such as slow internet speed, and emphasised that there was no shortage of booklets.
The NIS attributed the recent surge in demand for passports to factors such as increased travel aspirations and assured the public that measures were being taken to address passport issuance challenges effectively by improving facilities nationwide.
The NIS spokesperson highlighted the significance of immigration in Lagos, a renowned tourism destination.
He expressed appreciation to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for granting land allocation for the construction of staff quarters in the state.