By EricJames Ochigbo
The Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) has blamed the scarcity of International passport booklets on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) policy on forex.
The Comptroller-General of the service, Mr Idris Jere said this at a public hearing organised by an ad hoc Committee of the House of Representatives in Abuja.
“Foreign exchange regulation policy of the government and CBN’s refusal to grant access to forex for importation of the passport booklets.
“We generate forex from sale of passport but we do not have access to buy the same booklet and that is a challenge for NIS.
“The factors responsible for scarcity of passport include the inability to setup passport producing factory in Nigeria as its production is done abroad.
“The major seven component used for producing passports are sold in international market and the assemblage and production are done in Malaysia,” he said.
He said that Irris Smart Technology Ltd, the foreign company responsible for producing the passport had done well given the conditions.
He said that the presidential directive to commence production of passport locally by the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting (NSPM) was a welcome development.
He, however, recommended that a proper exit plan be put in place for a smooth handover from Irris Smart Tech to prevent any breach of contract and production process.
Earlier, the Managing Director of Irris Smart Technology Ltd , Mr Yinker Fisher said that before the advent of the e-passport system, the Nigerian passport was marred with embarrassing irregularities and inconsistency under the watch of NSPM.
According to him, as a result of lack of capacity, NSPM outsourced the process to three companies which led to so many irregularities including passport colour and numbers.(NAN)