Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Revert validity of Nigerian passport to 10 years − Reps


The House of Representatives on Tuesday sought the reversal of the validity period of the Nigerian Passport to 10 years as was the case before the introduction of the current e-Passport regime.

Under the current passport policy, the identity document expires after a period of five years and it leaves holders with no option of renewal.

Rather, holders are required to process a new one.

But, the House noted that in the pre-e-Passport era, the travelling document had a validity of five years in the first instance and could be renewed for another fiver years.

Lawmakers said this indicated that the passport had a “life span of 10 years”, as against the e-Passport regime that limited the validity period to five years without an option of renewal.

A member, Mr. Samson Olugbemi, had moved a motion on the matter, drawing the attention of the House to the “harrowing” experiences of Nigerians who got caught up abroad with the challenges posed by the current validity period of five years.

The resolution noted that the House could not see any further value in the validity period of five years “other than the selfish intentions of the Nigerian Immigration Service to increase its internally generated revenue profile and by extension, increase the funds it is permitted to offset its operational costs.”

Part of the motion read, “The House recalls that before the introduction of the e-Passport, the Nigerian Passport had a five-year validly period, subject to re-validation for another five years only; indicating that Nigeria’s passport had a lifespan of 10 years.

“The House also recalls that the process of renewal of the old passport was very simple and efficient, as it required mere stamping by an authorised immigration official, indicating a new expiration date.

“Convinced that the 10-year lifespan sits very well with international best practices because countries issue travelling visas, which vary from two weeks to 10 years.

“Concerned that Nigerian Immigration Service, for reason only known to it, decided to limit the validity of the new Nigerian Passport to five years without any option of renewal; therefore, instead of renewal of the passport on expiration, a new one is to be issued.

“The arbitrary change in policy is inflicting untold hardships and inconveniences to Nigerians at home and abroad.”

The House called on the NIS to “initiate measures aimed at reverting to the 10-year lifespan policy for the Nigerian Passport.”

Although, members passed the resolution in a majority voice vote, they admitted an amendment by the Minority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor, to give “fair hearing” to the NIS to speak on the importance of the current policy.

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