The Comptroller of Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) Imo Command, Mr Okey Ezugwu, on Thursday in Owerri warned passport racketeers to desist from the act or face severe consequences for their activities.
Ezugwu told our correspondent that the Command was out to deal with ‘criminal elements’ that extort money from passport applicants in the pretense of fast-tracking their passport acquisition.
He said that anyone caught would be prosecuted.
He warned that the Command would not hesitate to arrest and prosecute any officer of the Command found conniving with the racketeers.
The Comptroller advised applicants to desist from patronizing touts but come forward with their relevant documents to acquire their passports after completing the application form online.
Ezeugwu also warned against cash payment to any immigration officer for any reason, saying that all payments should be made before going to the Command to complete the process.
“The current policy is that no officer takes cash from an applicant for any reason; the process is so structured that you can do it yourselves from the comfort of your home.
“You only have to start the process online and then come to the command with your printout and the required documents to complete the process.
“The NIS today is totally rebranded and if applicants require assistance there are official channels they can go through without paying touts,” he said.
On scarcity of passport booklets, Ezeugwu said Nigerians in the Diaspora and those who have to travel for health reasons were given priority.
He said passports were issued in absentia to guard against duplication.
The Comptroller assured Imo residents that the Command’s monitoring team was actively taking record of every regular immigrant, adding that they were duly registered.