By Sandra Okonkwo
SIR: There have been series of articles written in recent time to expose corruption going on at the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) passport offices nationwide. The case of the Anambra passport office however is like no other. In fact, the so-called corruption in other states’ passport offices would seem like a child play compared with what is happening in Awka Passport Office.
On January 6, I took my mother to Awka passport office to obtain her international passport. We met a female officer who assisted us to run the processes but after capturing, we were told that there was no booklet for the production. We were told that as soon as the booklet is available, the passport will be produced and we left. Sometime in February, a tenant in our compound went to the same office and obtained an international passport which was issued to him the same day. Asked how that was possible, he told me that there is a set of officers that can give you passport the same day in Anambra as long as you have the money to pay. According to him, he was charged N100,000 for the service!
I now called the female officer that assisted my mother and she said that they got some booklets but that the passport control officer was charging extra N15,000 which she called production fee. I thought that these guys were lying. My mother then decided to go and see the head of passport office. After discussing with the woman, she asked us to meet one female officer. The officer wanted to the person that assisted us when we came and we told her. She summoned her while asking us to go and wait. Later, that officer that assisted us came and told us that we would need to cough out N15,000 for production. At this point we realised that we were dealing with a syndicate. It is important to state here that the passport is yet to be produced at the time of writing this.
Later, on April 16, I went back to the same Anambra passport office. This time, I explained to an official on duty of my urgent need for the document to enable me apply for an international admission which deadline was just less than one week. He then took me upstairs following my request to see their boss just to be sure that I will get it that day if I could pay. I was later directed to another official who told me that I would need to pay N80,000 to obtain it which I promptly paid. Indeed, my passport was delivered to me within three hours!
Meanwhile, my mother’s own is yet to be produced four months after capture.
As a concerned Anambrarian, I want to appeal to immigration authorities to investigate the goings-on in the passport office. The officers there are extorting a lot of money from our people. The big shots there do it by proxy through the provost section. It is important to note that international passport does not cost as much in other states .This I learnt from my cousin in Sokoto State. Why should the price be different in Anambra where the same international passport is issued? While we are waiting for the immigration authorities at Abuja to address this issue, I will not hesitate to lead a protest against this mindless extortion in Anambra passport office.
Sandra Okonkwo, firstname.lastname@example.org