By Segun James
The federal government has kicked-off the issuance of the enhanced e-passport from the FESTAC Town Passport Office in Lagos.
The Comptroller General of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), Mr. Muhammed Babandede, yesterday rolled out the new documents at a brief ceremony to authorise the FESTAC Passport Office, Lagos to process the enhanced electronic passport for applicants.
Earlier, NIS had launched the enhanced e-passport in Abuja followed by Ikoyi, Port Harcourt, Alausa and Kano passport offices before yesterday’s launch.
Babandede said the new enhanced e-passport has additional 26 security features compared to the one being phased out and in addition to these security features, it is water resistant because it is hydrocarbonated.
According to him, the new passport is rated the best in the world because it meets the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) new standards and Nigeria is one of the first few countries that incorporated the newly-recommended enhancements to fortify the passports in terms of security.
Babandede added that in view of the strategic location of Lagos as the economic capital of the country, and having the distinction of the three border points of land, sea and air, it is important to also empower the FESTAC Passport Office in order to have eight locations where the new passport is rolled out nationwide.
Babandede, represented by the Assistant Comptroller General, Zone A, Mrs. Doris Braimah, said the new e-passport would help Nigeria to meet global operational standards in passports management.
He explained that the enhanced e-passport is part of the new reforms approved by the federal government and it is a product of intensive review of the existing e-passport booklet, which has been in circulation for over 10 years and has only five year validity.
He said the new passport is available in three categories of 32-page with five years’ validity; 64-page with five years’ validity, both of which are available for adults and minors, and a 64-page version with 10 years’ validity for adults who were above 18 years of age.
Babandede stated that the requirements for the new passport are same as the old one, adding that a National Identification Number (NIN) is required and mandatory for the issuance of the new passport.
Spokesman of NIS, Sunday James, said the FESTAC Passport Centre is under Deputy Comptroller Adeola Adesokan a seasoned Immigration attachee that served meritoriously while on foreign mission before returning to Nigeria after she completed her duty tour.
He described her as a versatile and articulate officer that transformed the FESTAC Passport office within the first two months of her resumption, curbing corruption associated with extra charges and touting by third party influence, that have dented the service image.
With the enhanced passport, applicants are expected to apply online, pay online and approach the passport office with evidence of payment and a National Identity Number issued by the Nigerian Identity Management Agency (NIMC).