Interior Ministry Set To End Foreign Printing of Int’l Passports
BY BODE GBADEBO, Abuja
In order to create employment locally, conserve meagre foreign exchange and guard against the leaking of vital information, Nigeria will soon stop the practice of printing her international passports in foreign countries, LEADERSHIP Sunday can reveal authoritatively.
The firms handling the production of the essential travel document currently undertake the printing in countries like South Africa, Malaysia and Singapore.
Multiple sources at the Ministry of Interior confided in our reporter that the minister in charge, General Abdulrahaman Dambazzau (rtd) who has not been well disposed to the current practice in the procurement and manner of issuance of the international passports to Nigerians is set to kick-start the move in his ministry to produce the document within the shores of the country.
A well-placed source in the ministry told our correspondent that despite the amount of money being expended by the country to produce the document overseas, the security features they bear are not foolproof and tamperproof enough. This, he said is in addition to some other noticeable defects, which have all created a situation that has been a cause for concern to the minister.
The source noted that it has been concluded at the highest level in the ministry that instead of creating jobs for people outside Nigeria and to stop the avoidable spending of foreign exchange on foreign passport production, the state-owned security printing outfit – Nigeria Securiy, Minting and Printing Company (NSMPC) – had been asked to produce local samples of Nigeria’s International Passport in preparation for the company’s possible take over of the production of Nigerian Passports.
“You know apart from this, there is also the issue of officials of Nigeria Immigration Service, who are in the habit of hoarding passports in order to illegally charge extra fees for personal aggrandisement. The minister is worried about the embarrassment this causes government and as a result has put the comptroller-general of Immigration on his toes in order to stop the menace,” the source stated.
Dambazzau Seeks Effective Oversight Of Police
Meanwhile, indications are rife that the minister of Interior is gearing to present a draft memo to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for consideration for full enablement of his ministry to take effective charge of supervision of the Nigeria Police Force, NPF. It was gathered that this will enable the minister and the Interior Ministry carry out the reforms they have earmarked for the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) that are geared towards making the police more effective in the area of its core mandate of policing the society. It could be noted that though the police falls within the supervisory province of the Interior Ministry, check and balances from the executive on the police are almost solely carried out by the Police Service Commission, PSC.
The highly-placed source in the ministry, who craved anonymity, said the move became necessary against the backdrop of the fact that the Nigeria Police Force by statute falls under the superintendence of the Ministry of Interior.
“We do not have the police we deserve, hence the military’s involvement in routine policing tasks. But the concern is that the military has to be protected from undue exposure to the populace. There is need for reforms but the supervisory minister is hindered by law since he is not allowed to be a member of the Police Service Commission,” the source pointed out.
In the same vein, Dambazzau’s office is also said to be inundated with complaints from concerned members of the public against the trend of some influential members of the society in enlisting the services of operatives of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) as private body guards. Culpable in this are some top government officials, political office holders and private individuals in breach and disregard of the core mandate of NSCDC of protecting critical infrastructure across the country.
Consequently, the minister, according to our source, is said to be set to stop the practice with a view to ensuring that NSCDC operatives only perform their statutory functions as spelt out in the corps’ establishing Act.