Rauf Aregbesola, minister of interior, says Nigerians with expired passports can travel back home “without fear of harassment”.
The minister gave the assurance at a webinar organised by Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) on Saturday.
He said the establishment of front offices have been approved at Lagos, Kano, Abuja and Port Harcourt airports to help Nigerians “who arrive the country on expired passports to have their passports renewed immediately”.
“It is in this regard that the NIS recently granted a waiver for Nigerians with expired passports desirous of coming to Nigeria to do so without fear of harassment by airlines,” the minister said.
MAY 31 DEADLINE TO CLEAR BACKLOG
Aregbesola also said he has given a May 31 deadline to clear all backlogs of passport applications.
The minister said the delay in passport issuance experienced by Nigerians is one of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said the federal government has reached an “advanced stage” of domesticating the production of passport booklets to avert a future recurrence.
He said: “The Nigerian Immigration Service in recent time has been facing challenges in passport issuing, particularly because of a shortage of booklet, both locally and abroad. The ministry and NIS have been frantically working to resolve this.
“I gave a May 31st deadline to clear all backlogs of passport application. To ensure a permanent solution to the recurrent scarcity of booklet, the federal government is at an advanced stage of domesticating the production of passport booklets here in Nigeria.
“So, with what we are commencing on June 1st, I am confident that we shall no longer experience any shortage of booklets and the issuance and renewal of passports will be seamless starting from the 1st of June.
“To ensure efficient and effective service delivery to Nigerians, we have recently reviewed the passport issuing process with a view to streamlining the process for better performance while also eliminating the activities of touts.
“All passport applications and issuance are to be made online. Effective June 1, all passport application and issuance will take a period of six weeks to enable the NIS to carry out due diligence on all applicants.”
The minister added that the NIS recently approved the revalidation of all payments for passports made by Nigerians sequel to the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic.
“This is to enable the service conclude action on all pending passport applications,” he said.
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