Immigration lacks capacity to produce passports - Abba Moro

Abba Moro

Senator Abba Moro

Abba Moro, former Interior Minister
Abba Moro, former Interior Minister

Former Minister of Interior, Mr Abba Moro said the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) did not have capacity to produce international passport booklets and Combined Expatriate Resident Permit Green Card (CERPAC).

Similarly, Comptroller-General of NIS, Mr Kure Abeshi, said although the service was in charge of management of passports, visa and CERPAC, it did not have control over the data base.

Both men spoke at the investigative hearing into contracts awarded by Federal Ministry of Interior and NIS for outsourcing of expatriate residency management and borders facilitation by the House of Representatives Committee on Interior.

Moro said that because the agreements NIS had with different companies were not judiciously implemented, its personnel were not properly trained to take over from service providers in accordance with the letters of the agreements.

“I have read some of the agreements; in some of them, it is to train our personnel to take over from the organisation involved in the PPP. Unfortunately, we have not been able to reasonably implement the agreements.

“As at today, it is not correct to say that NIS has the capacity to implement these projects. As at today, I am saying the NIS does not have the capacity for passports production and CERPAC forms,” he said.

On allegations that Nigerians go through difficulties to obtain international passports, Moro debunked it, saying that the administration of Goodluck Jonathan simplified the process by introducing a 64-page passport and 10-finger biometric registration.

On operations of CONTEC, one of the companies being investigated in the contracts, the former minister disclosed that CONTEC did not issue passports or CERPAC but only sold CERPAC cards.

In his testimony, another former Interior Minister, Mr Emmanuel Iheanacho, disagreed with Moro, insisting that the CERPAC contracts were a conduit pipe for siphoning government money.

He said that the only solution was for NIS to be well equipped to take over the CERPAC project.

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In his submission, Interior Minister in late Umaru Yar Á’dua’s administration, Maj.-Gen. Godwin Abbe (retd), told the committee that when he was appointed, he noticed some anomalies in the contract with CONTEC.

“My only position was that CONTEC should not continue with the contract because it bordered on the security of the nation”.

The acting Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Alhaji Mohammed Maccido, who represented the Minister, Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazzau (retd), disclosed that the minister had constituted a committee to review some of the contentious contracts.

He explained that there were noticeable lapses in some of the agreements which needed to be reviewed.

Also, Chief Emeka Nwogu, former Minister of Labour and Productivity, who also served as supervisory minister of interior sometime, told the committee that the Federal Executive Council approved the contract for reprinting the international passport to Iris Smart Technologies Ltd.

Earlier, while declaring the investigation open, the Speaker, House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara, said that the house had been inundated with complaints from Nigerians about the quality of service delivery by NIS.

He said that the house was made to understand that the NIS outsourced important statutory functions to certain companies, primarily to automate and computerize the process as to enhance security and efficiency.

“As Nigerians, especially those in Diaspora lament the difficulties in obtaining passport, we have no alternative but to institute this inquiry to find out the facts in order to aid further legislation in this field,” he said.

In his remarks, Chairman of the committee, Rep. Adams Jagaba, allayed fears of all stakeholders on the probe, saying that the exercise was not to witch-hunt anyone or organisation but a fact-finding process.