By Bukar Bolori
Comptroller-General, (CG), of the Nigeria Immigration Service, (NIS), Muhammad Babandede, has ordered the closure of Abia State Passport Office as a result of attack on the facility by suspected members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
The CG made this known yesterday while briefing the media on developments in the agency with regards to efforts made for the smooth introduction of a new passports regime and the clearance of backlog of applications.
Babandede who alleged that one of the senior staff was lost in the attack, said no passport was destroyed in the inferno.
He said the agency is collaborating with the Nigeria police and other security agencies to secure and protect passports offices across the country.
He said: “We are very sad that we have to closed down our passports office in Abia because it was attacked and part of the building was burned down.
This is very sad but we are lucky that the passports section was safe so all the passports produced are intact otherwise it would have been worse.”
Babandede while lamenting that the building was one of its newly built and commissioned offices, urged the protection of critical national infrastructure to avoid waste of national resources.
He said: “I have instructed our officers to defend and protect our fatherland because they have a duty to keep the stability and and integrity of our nation. We are also working with the police and other security agencies to tackle this challenge.”
Babandede while updating on progress made to ensure seamless passport registration, renewal and collection process, said the new passports regime which begins June 1st, has been extended by a week to enable applicants who are yet to collect their passports do so in compliance with COVID-19 protocols and to avoid overcrowding.
He explained that already, 230, 500 passports have been produced and distributed with 43, 350 yet to be collected by applicants.
He however urged all who received messages to endeavour to come and collect their passports as directed because the schedule is such that applicants are invited in batches of 50 to come for collection.
He said only few passports are left to be cleared and this will be done in the next few days.