A tourist guide, Adesanya Oresanya, has accused an official of the Nigerian Immigration Service, Bako Doma, of extorting N200,000 to renew his passport.
The petitioner, with whom he spoke PUNCH MetroHe also alleged that the immigration officer stopped answering his calls.
He stated that he applied for the renewal of his passport at the NIS headquarters in Abuja in April 2021.
Oresanya explained that he decided to seek help from the immigration officer because there was an age difference in his old passport and some of his documents.
He said he was told that the problem could only be resolved at the immigration headquarters in Abuja, adding that Doma had promised to resolve everything within two months.
Oresanya, however, lamented that his efforts to obtain a passport for more than 21 months have not yielded a positive response.
He complained that the application process gives room for extortion.
The media practitioner said he was unable to attend trainings, workshops and business trips because he did not have a passport.
He said: “In February 2022, I called Servicom; I got the phone number from the NIS website. They collected the officer’s details for me so that they would know about his end.
“They said I should call and I did. They said they couldn’t get along with him. I called the second time, the same thing and the third time I called, they called me while my call was still on, but he didn’t pick up. They said that had been the case ever since.
“Finally, after calling about five times, he picked up the call and was told that he had been told to come to the Servicom office to explain his side of the story. After that, I called them again and they told me that he had submitted all my documents and explained that he had paid the necessary penalty.
“They said it took a long time because it was the controller general who admitted the age discrepancy issues. After a while, (Servicom) stopped taking 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 another N50,000.”
On how it affected him, Oresanya said: “I have missed the international tourism conferences I used to attend; I arrange tours for Nigerians going outside the country. I can’t do that again. It is affecting my financial and business life.
“I could get a lot of international engagements, but since I don’t have a valid passport, I can’t do that.”
Efforts to reach the officer were unsuccessful.
His phone could not be reached and he did not respond to several text messages sent to him.
The NIS spokesperson, Tony Akuneme, has expressed readiness to resolve the issue.
Akuneme said: “My name is Tony Akuneme, and if I write Akuneme Tony when filling out my passport, it will not go through; so is the new passport system.
“But many people don’t understand or don’t even know. So all we are doing now is awareness.
“It is true that the new leadership is committed to change orientation, punish the offenders and sensitize the people because they are Nigerians; they can’t come from the moon to be immigration officers.
“We have taken over the work of the Servicom unit, because they are overwhelmed. I am willing to take the matter up and make sure it is resolved. We will try to solve the passport problem; then we can now look at the immigration officer and see what can be done.’