The Nigeria Immigration Service issued at least 66,929 official and diplomatic passports to public office holders since the dawn of the electronic passport issuance in January 2007 till August 2023.
This is as over 1,091 of the travel documents were issued to newly-elected and appointed public officials since President Bola Tinubu assumed office on May 29, 2023.
Acting Comptroller-General of the NIS, Caroline Adepoju, revealed this in an interview with Newsmen.
Adepoju said over 16 million passports were issued to Nigerians, including foreign nationals who later became citizens.
She disclosed that more passports are being processed for new public office holders (including the newly-appointed ministers), immigration officers on diplomatic missions, and some military attaché.
Explaining the details, the immigration chief said,
“For diplomatic passports, which are issued to diplomats, we have 125 issued now.
“This includes some officials in the presidency, our personnel on diplomatic missions, and some military attaché. So far, we have issued 125 diplomatic passports. For the official, that amounts to 966 passports.”
Going by past passport records, Adepoju added,
“Prior to 2007, passports were issued manually. The electronic passports came into being on January 1, 2007.
“So, to date, I can tell you that the total number of passports that have been issued is 16,361,966. That is the total of all the passports that have been given.
“As for the diplomatic passports, we have 12,470 issued since 2007. And the official, we have issued 54,459 passports.”
On her watch, Adepoju said over 337,756 personalised booklets have been issued— both home and abroad—from May 30, 2023, till August 31, 2023.
“We are still calling on Nigerians who applied for passports to go and collect their passports. Nigerians are expected to apply for their passport online; anyone can do it.
“They don’t need agents. The danger is this: when agents apply on people’s behalf, they use fictitious addresses and telephone numbers. Even if we have observations or complaints or there are things the applicants need to correct on their forms, we cannot easily access them,” she lamented.
The immigration Chief also gave an account of the e-registration exercise for migrants, saying over 300,000 migrants are duly registered on the scheme.
“We have about 300,000 migrants electronically registered on that system. About 25 per cent (75,000) of them are regular migrants, while 75 per cent (225,000) are irregular migrants.
“The exercise is ongoing as part of our efforts to enhance national security and regulate the presence of migrants in the country,” Adepoju revealed.
A former Nigerian Ambassador to Singapore, Dr Ogbole Amedu-Ode says specialised documents such as official and diplomatic passports ensure that the bearers, often involved in significant state matters, are recognised internationally and are granted the necessary courtesies and privileges to effectively carry out their duties.
“For the diplomatic passports, it is captured in the Vienna Convention that because the person of the diplomatic agent is inviolable, they need to have and travel with a document that gives them some privileges and also some responsibilities to facilitate the job they’re going out to do,” he explained.