By Emeka Aginam
With its commitment to ensuring transparency and due process in the issuance of electronic passport introduced years back, the Nigerian Immigration at the Ikoyi Passport office Lagos State has cautioned e- passport applicants not to patronize touts in the acquisition of the product which has been on high demand by many Nigerians.
While condemning the illegal activities of street boys, a senior Immigration Officer who spoke to Vanguard Hi-Tech last Monday in Lagos on anonymous ground said that the process of getting the chip based product is gives equal opportunity to ever applicant.
“It is very amazing that applicants rely on touts when they can apply themselves and get it on time eventually.
“We have been saying it we are saying it again. Applicants should follow due process. I guess it economic waste patronizing street boys. It is very said that many applicants are lazy to apply themselves” he said.
Although activities of touts are a national issue, he said that obtaining e-passport is something any person can do no matter the literate level.
“If you look at out notice board outside there, it is written in black and white sensitizing applicants on this issue. We will continue to enlighten people on that. We have been arresting touts but it has been difficult to completely wipe the touts out from markets. It is global issue. We will continue to do our best.
“We will always ensure that all Nigerians are treated in a fair and equal manner. Since the process is technology driven, patronizing tout is not necessary” he said.
He disclosed that power failure is still a major issue affecting e-passport. This is because once power goes off in the process of processing the product , you must have to start all over gain” he said.
It would be recalled that the Nigeria Immigration Service launched the e-passport to the Nigerian public on July 27, 2007 when the Comptroller-General of Nigeria Immigration Service, Mr J. C. Ude issued the first citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua with the e-passport at the Presidential Villa, Abuja .
Before now, the Nigeria Immigration Service has rolled out several public enlightenment and mass education to create awareness and sensitize the Nigerian public on the procedural requirements for obtaining the e-passport.
The harmonized ECOWAS Smart electronic passport issued by the Nigerian Immigrations Service is powered by biometric technology in tandem with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) specifications for international travels.
Travellers’ data captured in the biometric passport can be accessed instantly and read by any security agent from any spot of the globe through an integrated network of systems configured and linked to a centrally-coordinated passport data bank managed by the Nigerian Immigrations Service.
The e-passport is supported by a powerful data base that ensures data claims verifiability om any point of entry or departure. The traveler’s identity can be ascertained and any ambiguity arising from identity problems addressed with dispatch.
Nigeria is the first country in Africa to acquire the e-passport technology and among the first five nations of the world to adopt the biometric technology to the delight of International Migration Experts and security agents worldwide.
The e-based procedure reduces human interface but rather increases interactive synergy with computers and internet service providers.
Interestingly, every procedural input for the e-passport is strictly online while payment for the NIS pay card which contains the personal identification numbers of subscribers is handled by accredited banks