The Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), is likely to commence the arrest of former ministers, governors, and lawmakers who have failed to return their diplomatic passports to the service. This comes barely a week after the NIS issued a final warning to all unauthorised holders.

This warning stated that affected individuals had only 48 hours left; from Monday,  September 21st to 22nd to submit their passports or face prosecution. Failure to comply with the order from the Comptroller General of Immigration Service, Mr. Martin Abeshi would place defaulters under the scrutiny of NIS operatives, the Defence Security Service (DSS) and the police, leading to subsequent apprehension.

Barely two weeks ago, the federal government tightened security measures to ensure that some of these holders were held back at all ports. Therefore the Nigerian Immigration Service and other security personnels were ordered by the government to set up surveillance at all ports of entry into the country, arresting any unauthorized holder of a diplomatic or official passport. Earlier in the month, President Muhammadu Buhari directed that a list of people using diplomatic passports illegally be submitted to him.

So far, immediate past ministers and former governors have allegedly refused to cooperate with the recent directives from the service. Their reluctance is hardly surprising considering that handing in this documentation would prevent international travel on official state business or as representative of the national government.

Diplomatic passports are given to diplomats and consuls when they are posted overseas, and they may be issued to other people within the government as well, depending on the circumstance. If someone qualifies for a diplomatic passport, his or her immediate family also qualifies. Also such passports are no-fee passports; authorised individuals do not have to pay for their diplomatic passports and visas.

Source: Felicia Omari Ochelle, Ventures Africa

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