Muhammed Babandede, Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, has said scarcity of booklets for passports is a major factor fueling corruption in the service.
Babandede, who urged Nigerians to make use of it online service, also apologised to Nigerians for their bad experiences at the passport offices nationwide.
He made this known during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme on Monday.
When asked if he was aware of the fact that Nigerians still give bribes to get their passports, the immigration boss responded, “I apologise to Nigerians and I am not here to defend any officer. Any officer who takes money for passports is usually punished but we have challenges.
“One of the challenges we have is the issue of scarcity of booklets. When there is scarcity, the desire to rush over others is there. The government is doing everything it can to make sure that we can produce passports in Nigeria and get them as quickly as we can.
“There is nothing I can do if there are no booklets. The scarcity remains an issue.”
Babandede said there was a need to create institutional processing of passport and this has led to the launching of the modern passport processing centre in Abuja last month.
He said the centre would be replicated in other major cities in the country and this would curb extortion at the passport centres.
“We punish officers daily over this issue but I urge Nigerians to try to make payment online or try to plan your trips on time. Some people come to our offices, asking to get their passports immediately for a trip the next day,” the immigration boss said.
Babandede asked all illegal aliens to take advantage of the amnesty period to regularise their documents.
He also stated that efforts were on to harmonise all database systems in the country to improve citizen information.