On June 12th, 2022, I initiated the application registration for my international passport on the official website of the Nigeria immigration service, before visiting their Ibadan passport office for documentation: biometric capturing and registration to validate the online application.
This journey was orchestrated by a friend, Abiola Oworock, following his advice on how it is important to have an international passport as it may be difficult to get it if there is an urgent need for it.
After the online registration, I proceeded to print out the list of documents generated on the website, leaving the guarantor’s form untouched till the scheduled day for my biometric capturing.
On July 14, 2022, the scheduled day for the capturing, I proceeded to the immigration office at Agodi and got there by 2.35 PM for a 12 PM appointment.
I was ushered into the premises by the security officers and I was amazed by the huge number of applicants waiting under the shed to gain access into the capturing section, and I was unofficially informed by other applicants that I have a long time to wait.
Of course, there are numerous applicants, interested in getting their passport for diverse reasons but majorly because most of them are keen on traveling abroad.
While waiting, an immigration officer ushered some people into the hall and I asked around what I needed to do before I was directed to a young lady who was willing to assist with the sorting of my documents.
I was informed it would be impossible to capture on the same day as my documents needed to be verified, and I was advised to return on another day for capturing.
Passport Officers Price Vs Official Price
According to the Nigeria Immigration Service, applications and payments for passports are expected to be made via the official website by the applicants themselves, and not through a third party or agents.
The categories of the passport are as follows: 32-page five-year validity (adults and minors); 64-page five-year validity (adults and minors); 64-page 10-year validity (adults (18+) only); and a 32-page five-year Official Passport.
32 pages standard-N26000 including bank charges. Five-year plan Standard Passport-N35, 000 64-Page 10-year the standard passport for adults (18 years and above) is N70, 000.
I applied for the 32-page passport with 5-year validity and paid N26,000 with the bank charges. However, some applicants part with as much as N40,000-N50,000 depending on the agent they are negotiating with to get the 32-page passport with five-year validity instead of N25,000, while the 64-page passport with 10-year validity is gotten by some for as high as N250,000.
One of the applicants, Barakat confirmed she paid N46,000 to one of the agents, and she has an option of paying an additional fee of N15,000 to fast-track the issuance of her passport.
Another applicant in Ogun state Tolulope Ajayi said she paid N45,000, which she thought was the official price, and got her passport within weeks of processing, but those who paid below such amount were yet to get theirs.
Kehinde Adebimpe also noted that she paid N50,000 to bypass the queue and documentation process.
Another applicant who chose to be anonymous said “it is obvious that immigration officers are deliberately delaying the processing of the applicants’ passports so that applicants would be forced to boycott the online registration and rather contract officers or agents, so they could ease themselves of the rigorous process and get their passports faster.”
Sharing his experience, a Twitter user, Muneer Yaqub explained that he was asked to pay N75,000 by some immigration officers when he initiated the process but declined to pay such amount, but was warned by immigration officers against applying online because his application would be left unattended to.
To his surprise, he applied online and got his passport within 3 weeks of application.
I went to a passport office in Lagos, asked some immigration officers what the process is. They said to give them 75k they’ll have it done for me. No. Turns out the official price is 25k so I asked for the DIY process. In 3wks i did capturing & got a text to come get my passport.
— Muneer Yaqub (@elMunir5) August 7, 2022
As an applicant, I have not been able to get my passport, despite being asked to come for my passport on July 21, 2022.
When I visited the facility on August 8, 2022, I was told to check back because I was captured in July and those who were captured in May are just receiving their passports.
Barakat also confirmed their inefficiency, saying, “I captured on Monday July 18, 2022 and in the slip given to me, I saw Thursday July 21, 2022 as the day of collection, but as I was handed the slip I was told to meet the officer that helped me with the registration as he will be the one to communicate when I should come for the passport. When I approached their office to collect my passport, I was told to meet the officer that helped me with the registration as he will be the one to communicate when I should come for the passport. Since then if I called the immigration officer, it is either he says I am pressuring him, or will not pick up.
Capturing Room: Bribery and Extortion Persist
Inside the capturing room at the Ibadan passport office, there exists a booming business of renting suits and wigs for both males and females, respectively. At the entrance into the capturing room, officers informed applicants to switch off their phones before entering and I imagine this was to prevent the recording of the illicit business ongoing inside the room.
According to Barakat, she was asked to rent a wig for N1000 after the system failed to accept the image due to her hairstyle.
She recounted that “I was asked to rent a wig for N1000 after the system failed to accept the color of my hairstyle. The officers asked me to come back if I didn’t have the money on me, so as to attend to other applicants in time. I had to plead to pay N500, to which they refused.”
Another applicant, Babajide Damilola, was asked to rent a suit for N1000 due to the color of his shirt.
According to him, he requested to transfer the money to an account number as he was short of cash, but the officers refused because of a fake alert they had received in the past, but later asked Babajide to transfer the money into a specific account.
Another style used in extorting applicants is by asking for appreciation before leaving the capturing room.
Most of the people who entered the capturing room parted with a certain amount, except for those who pleaded not to have enough cash with them.
NIS Unable to Curb its Officers from Exploiting Nigerians
The Nigerian Immigration Service is aware of the extortion in its offices but seems it has been unable to curb it.
In an interview with legit, the public relations officer of NIS, Amos Okpu urged Nigerians to stop giving money to officers when applying for an international passport. According to him, it is not only criminal on the part of the applicants but also wrong for officers to demand money to facilitate the process.
He noted that the purpose of online registration is to eliminate all forms of cash transactions and also simplify the process across their offices.
He disclosed that even though they don’t yet have a perfect system, they constantly request the people to endeavour to follow the process they have established.
However, he stated that if they receive reports about any personnel collecting money, the rules will be applied. Where it’s proven beyond a reasonable doubt, appropriate sanctions are applied.