A tourist guide, Adesanya Oresanya, has accused an official of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Bako Doma, of extorting N200,000 from him for passport renewal.
The applicant, who spoke to PUNCH Metro, also alleged that the immigration officer had stopped taking his calls.
He claimed he applied for passport renewal at the NIS headquarters in Abuja in April 2021.
Oresanya explained that he decided to seek the assistance of the immigration officer because there was age discrepancy in his old passport and some of his documents.
He said he was told the issue could only be resolved at the immigration headquarters in Abuja, adding that Doma promised to get everything sorted within two months.
Oresanya, however, lamented that efforts to get his passport for over 21 months had not yielded any positive response.
He complained that the application process gave room for extortion.
The media practitioner said he was unable to attend training, workshops and business trips because he did not have his passport.
He said, “In February 2022, I called Servicom; I got their phone number from the NIS website. They collected the officer’s details from me so that they could hear from his end.
“They said I should call back and I did. They said they were not getting through to him. I called the second time, same thing and the third time I called, they called him while my call was still on, but he did not pick up. They said that had been the situation since.
“Eventually, after about five times calling, he picked up his call and they said they had told him to come to Servicom’s office to explain his side of the story. After that, I called them again and they said he had explained that he had put forward all my documents and paid the necessary penalty.
“They said it was taking long because it was the controller-general that approved age discrepancy issues. After a while, they (Servicom) stopped picking my calls.
“Initially, I gave officer Bako Sani Doma N150,000 in April 2021. He said he needed more money to push the process in July 2022, so, I gave him additional N50,000.”
On how it had affected him, Oresanya said, “I have missed out on international tourism conferences that I normally attended; I organise tours for Nigerians going outside the country. I can’t do that again. It’s affecting my economic life and business.
“There are a lot of international engagements that I would have got in but because I don’t have a valid passport, I can’t do that.”
Efforts to get the officer were not successful.
His phone was not reachable and he did not reply to several text messages sent to him.
The NIS spokesperson, Tony Akuneme, expressed readiness in resolving the issue.
Akuneme said, “My name is Tony Akuneme, and if it comes to filling in my passport and I write Akuneme Tony, it won’t go through; that’s how the new passport system is.
“But a lot of people don’t understand it or don’t even know it. So, all we are doing now is sensitisation.
“The truth is the new leadership is committed to changing the orientation, punishing offenders and sensitising people because they are Nigerians; they can’t come from the moon to be an immigration officer.
“We have taken over the work of the Servicom unit because they are overwhelmed. I am willing to take over the matter and I will ensure it is sorted out. We will try and sort out the passport issue; then we can now look at the immigration officer and see what can be done to him.”