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NIS rolls out e-passport in Rivers

Valentine Chinyem

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The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has launched the enhanced Electronic Passport (e-passport) travel document to reposition and improve the passport issuance regime in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.

In his address, Comptroller of Immigration Service, Rivers State Command, Segun Adegoke, disclosed that the enhanced e-passport was tailored towards global best practice.

He said the passport offered Nigerians the options of five and 10 years validity to save bonafide citizens from frequent visits to replace their passports.

According to the state NIS Comptroller, after the enhanced e-passport was issued to President Muhammadu Buhari on January 15, 2019, the service had made efforts to carry out a systematic launch of the passport in different parts of the country.

The Comptroller added that the NIS has allowed the present booklet to run concurrently until it is being phased out.

He explained: “The enhanced e-passport is embedded with new security features, some of which include: Multi Laser Image (MLI) features, pre-printed features that can only be seen under UV light and infrared.”

Meanwhile, Rivers Governor Nyesom Wike has lauded the NIS for introducing the e-passport with 10-year validity, saying it would enable Nigerians to acquire long-term visas.

Wike, in his speech during the roll-out of the enhanced e-passport in Port Harcourt, commended the Service for the improved security features on the new passport.

He said: “Let me thank the Nigeria Immigration Service for their giant strides in the area of the Electronic Passport. It will help towards security and other trends.

“The introduction of e-passport is, indeed, commendable because of its improved security features and other key features of the passport.

“The extension of the validity period is also important as it will allow holders to access lengthy visas. The 10-year passport affords most people the opportunity to have longer visas,” the governor said.

The governor noted that the requirement that all those seeking to obtain the International Passport must have National Identity Number (NIN) is key.

“The integration with the national identity number is very important. It is an innovation which is encouraging,” he said.

He commended the Comptroller-General for taking Port Harcourt first in the commencement of the issuance of e-passport in the South-South and South-East.

Governor Wike, however, said that the requirement that Nigerians must supply their BVN before obtaining the e-passport was not necessary.

He said: “I was surprised yesterday when I was told to bring my Bank Verification Number (BVN). Assuming I have a child, who is one year old and I want to travel with my child, are you telling me that my child cannot travel, perhaps because he does not have a bank account?

“I told them, you have my salary account, go and check my BVN. I don’t know how the BVN has become a factor in the issuance of an international passport. That is not acceptable. If this is the only way that we can check corruption, then we have failed.

“As a governor, you know my salary, you know my account and this can be collected from the Code of Conduct Bureau. It is not hidden”, Wike expressed.

The governor advised federal agencies to stop depending on state governments for their operations.

“Federal agencies should stop depending fully on State governments for their operations. The responsibility is too enormous.

“Today, you have asked. The police will ask, the Drug Law Enforcement Agency will ask, the Army will ask and other Federal agencies will also ask. How are we going to survive?” he said.

He appealed to the people of Rivers to take advantage of the facility to obtain their international passports.

He said: “I want to thank you for this innovation. I know that since you launched it here, I should also do something good, but not today.

“I urge our people to take advantage of this facility to ensure you come to get your International passport. Also, go and register for your National Identity card, it is very important.”

The highpoint of the event was the capturing and presentation of the new e-passport to Governor Wike and his wife, Justice Eberechi Suzzette Nyesom-Wike.