By Milton Tella –
His Excellency, Chief Tunji Ishola has mandated the Immigration department to ensure the Mission raise the bar in its service delivery.
Upon assumption of duties, the High Commissioner, Ambassador Sarafa Tunji Isola, held series of strategic meetings, including engaging the immigration section of the Mission, to brainstorm on the best way to address the incessant allegations of corruption and other negative reports on the issuance of the Nigerian passport in London, as well as to restore the Mission’s credibility in the process.
The problems associated with the issuance of passports to Nigerians in the UK is getting the priority attention of the new Nigeria High Commissioner to the UK, His Excellency, Tunji Sarafadeen Ishola.
Following the strategic meetings, on Wednesday 19th May 2021, the High Commission was able to identify and break the gang of passport racketeers in London. The Mission also discovered that, 18 innocent Nigerians paid between £200 and £350 to racketeers in their desire to urgently acquire or renew Nigerian Passports. Unfortunately, the racketeers issued them with forged documents with a promise to assistthe applicants through a “nonexistent Abuja list “in the Mission. The Mission sympathises with the past victims, whilst admonishing our fellow Country men and women to always avail themselves with official channels in the Mission for assistance on compassionate grounds and desist from patronizing unofficial agents/touts.
Mission has reviewed its activities during this period and acknowledges the need to attendto Nigerianswho have urgent reasons to renew their Passports. In this regard, the Mission would resume the Fast-Track Services in line with global best practices.
The new Immigration Attaché Kubota Bello at the Mission told African Voice reporter who was on a tour of the immigration department of the High Commission that it has been quite challenging due to work load inherited by the new team but they are giving their very best on it.
In his statement: “when l resumed, there was a huge backlog due to the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown. The department has been working tirelessly to clear all outstanding applications dated back to January 2020, we are currently servicing applications made in December 2020.
“For the month of April 2021 alone, we issued out over 10,000 passports, there are days when we attended to 400 applicants. But Our personnel are determined to clear all existing conditions.
In a document released by the High Commission on the 21st of May 2021, various measures are now into place to curb touting and racketeering
Below are the following measures has been put in place: i. Continuous processing of applications and dates of appointments in line with the current practice.
ii. Administrative charge of £20 on all passport processing
iii. To resume the £100 (One Hundred Pounds) Fast Track service with effect from Monday, 24thMay 2021. All payment must be in postal orders clearly addressed to the Nigeria High Commission, London for transparency and accountability purposes.
iv. Continued adoption of extra vigilance to discover and eliminate corrupt actions associated with Passport application and processing in the Mission.
This is in line with the zero tolerance of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration as clearly spelt out in the Mission’s Charter.
v. Future reports of corrupt practices must be fact based with evidence and devoid of frivolous innuendos and allegations. This will assist the Mission in this onerous task of anti-corruption drive. Mission seeks the cooperation of the public to report anyone aiding and abating corrupt practices to this email address email@example.com.
vi. Mission will continue to investigate possible in-house collaborators for appropriate disciplinary action.