By Jimoh Babatunde
Getting the Nigerian green passport had always been difficult for business and leisure travelers at the Nigeria Immigration Service’s offices in Lagos.
But things are changing at the Festac passport office as a visit to the office during the week revealed that the place has been sanitized as there was no tout around to usher prospective passport applicants.
The security measure put in place by the Passport Comptroller, ACI Onwuasigwe, has been able to checkmate the activities of touts in and around the premises and those who pose as agents.
From the gate, the service police officers are on hand to screen those coming into the premises with modern security gadgets, while other officers are seen patrolling the vicinity of the passport office to apprehend those loitering around.
This security measure in the premises is to ensure that only those that have legitimate business are seen there while at the same time, educate applicants on the grave danger of giving their personal data to someone they don’t know who can use such data for mischievous purposes.
The areas which applicants do had complaints, the Passport Comptroller, has effectively put a check to the menace.
For example, a passport applicant is expected to have completed the first phase of processing his/her application outside the passport office premises before coming for the data capture.
This first phase include filling of the application forms and making payment online, areas the touts would claim they assist applicants for a fee. There is also placed notices around the premises warning applicants not to deal with touts.
It was also discovered that the Passport Comptroller has zero tolerance for indiscipline and corruption and the officers and men know this. Therefore, any operative that is foolish enough to get involved in corrupt practices has himself/herself to blame. The Pco makes sure officers wear name tags on their uniforms, so that the public can bring such connivance with touts or hoodlums to management’s notice.