Abuja – The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) said on Monday that all passport issues related to change of data should be directed to its headquarters to prevent abuse of the law.
Mr Chukwuemeka Obua, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the service, gave the advice in an interview in Abuja.
Obua explained that the policy was designed by the service to prevent dubious and mischievous persons from taking undue advantage of the law to change their data information.
He noted that the service had observed that some members of the public were frequenting state offices demanding to change data information like name and age their passports.
“It is suspected that women under the guise of marriage also take advantage of the law to change other information on their passport like age so as to suit a different purpose.
“Some persons go to state offices more than twice a year to change their age with the excuse that they previously gave a wrong age or their parents just informed them of their real age.
“The service knows that whenever an individual’s data is altered his or her identity is affected which is a very sensitive issue, therefore, only the headquarters can resolve all matters related to that,” said Obua.
He said the service adopted the policy in 2006 when the e-passport was introduced to prevent undue alterations on the passport and reduce cases of stolen or transfer of passport between siblings or friends.
Obua said that to make the Nigerian passport internationally acceptable the e-passport was introduced with enhanced security features concerning picture and thump print to make it exclusive to the individual.
“The e-passport is gender friendly, forestalls identity theft, the pages in the passport is now 64 instead of 32 to accommodate frequent travellers, the e-passport also takes care of low income earners and the aged.
“With its enhanced security feature, if you are caught with a passport and your thumb print does not match that on the passport it is assumed you stole it, therefore, you will be arrested and prosecuted,” he said.
However, Obua said that other passport related issues like obtaining an e-passport, e-passport renewal and replacement of stolen passport could be addressed by the state offices of the service.
But an applicant said on condition of anonymity that the policy did not consider the safety of the public as people had to travel far distances to resolve such complaints.
The applicant observed that the cost of transportation was most times more than the cost of resolving the complaints, wondering if the state offices were incompetent or unreliable to handle the policy at that level.
The source advised the service review the implementation strategy of the policy to allow states resolve such issues. (NAN)