JUST like many other public institutions, the Nigeria Immigration Service stinks of infernal corruption. Already, an exposé in the media that applicants are being fleeced at the Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos passport office has triggered a probe by the NIS. The sleaze is a hurricane that sweeps across all NIS offices across the country.
In theory, the NIS is supposed to issue fresh passports to applicants within 48 hours; re-issuance (or renewal) takes 72 hours after enrolling for biometric data capture, which takes an unspecified length of time. But in practice things are completely different, an unpleasant experience for the majority of applicants who go through excruciating delay. This manifests in open touting or the deliberate use of “agents” by NIS officers, and lengthy queues at passport offices. The Alausa passport office in Lagos is an eyesore. Rowdiness and long queues define the place, among other ills. The bottleneck fuels bribery, allowing NIS officers to rip off or wring bribes from desperate applicants, who are made to pay between N25,000 and N27,000 or more, instead of the official price of N17,000 (32 pages) or N22,000 (64 pages). Officers solicit money to issue passport to applicants through the use of agents. This is terrible.