By Sule Ya’u Sule
The travel restrictions imposed on Nigerians by US President Donald Trump came to Nigerians as a big surprise considering the mutually beneficial relationship existing between both countries as well as documented enlightened contribution of the Nigerian community to the US economy and society.
One point overlooked, however, is that the statement titled ‘Proclamation on Improving Enhanced Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry’, issued by the White House on January 31, 2020, may have indirectly acknowledged the improved security features and authenticity of Nigeria’s newly introduced e-passport.
The US travel restrictions do not affect student visas, temporary visitor visas, and processing travel documents for refugee asylum seekers.
Any Nigerians with a valid immigrant visa or is on their way to the United States with an immigrant visa will not be affected or denied entry as a result of the ban.
It must therefore be understood that the US travel restrictions have indirectly validated the high security value of our e – passport, hence there is no ban on genuine Nigerian passport holders travelling to the US.
This may not be unconnected with the improved features on the new travel document which have strengthened its security value, make it impossible to be faked, counterfeited, transferred to an authorized user who might pose a security threat to a third-party country.
Strengthened by enhanced twenty-five new security features which include the engraving of a holder’s National Identity Number (NIN), the new Nigerian e-passport assists rather than hinder at-risk countries in their fight against terror.
Another key feature of the e-passport is that the important data page comes in polycarbonate technology that eliminates damage, and not laminated like the previous one. Thanks to this new feature, fraudulent persons will find it harder to alter personal information, including changing a photograph on the Nigerian passport.
Another important feature is the Multi Laser Image (MLC), which captures the primary and secondary image of a passport holder. This heightened tamper-proof feature gives the passport double-safety uniqueness and dissuades attempts to duplicate or forge it. It also comes in a higher quality material than the previous one.
With zero vulnerability, Nigeria’s new e-passport which became officially available from March 2019 and which meet ICAO standards has become Nigeria’s best brand product.
The White House statement restates the strategic relationship between Nigeria and the United States in the fight against terrorism, the new e-passport regime introduced as part of audacious reforms by the Nigeria Immigration Service NIS under the leadership of CGI Muhammad Babandade’s present an opportunity for stronger collaboration in the identity-management and information-sharing requirements of the US Government.
As the US Government, the Buhari Administration is determined to close all loopholes in sharing terrorist, criminal, or identity information, which poses a threat to national security and public safety. The desire of the US Government for ‘sufficient improvements in Nigeria’s information sharing and immigration screening and vetting’ will be boosted by the new e-passport which meets all the security standards of those countries which enjoy a stronger information-sharing partnership with the US.
The commitment by the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, to the Nigerian public to ensuring that neither the e-passport’s extraordinary security features nor its availability would be compromised is very reassuring.
“The new Nigerian Passport is the face of the new Nigeria. Its advanced technological and enhanced security features, as well as ease of procurement, are consistent with international best practices”, NIS said in its statement.
* Dr. Sule Ya’u Sule writes from Kano