Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The Consulate General of Nigeria in New York has called on holders of the over 1,000 e-passports currently in its custody to appear at the Consulate for collection.
The call, Daily Sun gathered, was necessitated by the nuisance value of the situation at the Consulate.
The Consul-General Benaoyagha Okoyen, in a statement made available to reporters, said the backlog of passport and visa applications were continuously cleared by the Consulate in line with laid down procedures of the Federal Government.
He disclosed that the Consulate had always applied the best standard and best practices regarding e-passports and visa procurement, refuting recent media reports of bribe taking at the New York Consulate.
“Despite the pressure and challenges of December rush in New York, occasioned by the temporary lack of e-passport booklets in other missions in USA, no charge of $200 or any other fee is made by applicants for same day e-passport service,” Okoyen stated.
He added that the procedure for timely issuance of passports and visas have been simplified and further streamlined.
“We have also worked hard to ensure that the New York Consulate never runs short of e-passport booklets to avoid any disruption in our services,” he explained.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Consulate fully keys into the anti-corruption agenda of the Federal Government of Nigeria and will, therefore, spare no one in the Consulate against whom any allegation of unethical practice can be proven.”
Okoyen also said Thebez Global is the only company that handles biometric visa processing on behalf of the Consulate in the VFS Centre.
He further dissociated the Consulate from anything untoward in terms of its service.
“The Consulate therefore wishes to dissociate itself from any other third-party service providers or unauthorized agents in accessing services provided by the Consulate-General of Nigeria in New York,” the envoy added.
Okoyen said that any payment made by applicants to unauthorized third-party service providers should not be misconstrued or translated to mean payment to the Consulate-General or its officials.
“As a standard practice, e-passports are expected to be renewed six months before their expiration. It is sad to note that some Nigerians who usually book flights far ahead of travel dates, would sometimes forget to apply for passport renewal until the last minute. Nigerians are encouraged to be more proactive and desist from putting undue pressure on the officials of the consulate who are sometimes harassed and assaulted for insisting on strict adherence to the appointment dates given to applicants,” Okoyen stated.
He reiterated the commitment of the Consulate to continued quality service delivery within its limited manpower and resources, and to effectively cover its jurisdiction.