Passport: Interior minister decries waiting time, declares N5,000 ‘compliance fee’ illegal

The Federal Government has declared as illegal, the N5,000 “Compliance Fee” charged by some personnel of the Nigeria Immigration Service NIS in some Passport Offices to help applicants process their passports.

Minister of Interior, Dr Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo made the declaration while responding to questions by Vanguard.

“Compliance fee? I am hearing it for the first time. We will plead with Nigerians to assist us to succeed. Do not pay compliance fee, if there is anything like that. Do not pay for your rights. There is nothing in the books that is compliance fee. Please, let us educate our people to know”, he stated.

Passport to heaven?

On assumption of office, the minister had queried the long queues at the immigration passport offices, lamenting that the situation had become as if Nigerians were queuing for passports to heaven.

While he stressed the need to reduce the waiting period to get an international passport, the minister said even as a federal lawmaker and Chairman of the Committee on Niger Delta Development Commission NDDC, his own daughter waited for six months to get her passport, wondering what the fate of the average Nigerian would be.

His predecessor, Rauf Aregbesola had instituted a three-week timeline for renewal of passports and six-week timeline for fresh applications. However, as of September 2023, there were over 204,000 unprocessed applications.

Acting Comptroller General of Immigration, Caroline Wuraola-Adepoju who explained the reasons for the increased backlogs, said the urge by young Nigerians to move out of the country, popularly referred to as the “Japa Syndrome”, led to increased applications since 2021.

“My daughter waited for six months to get her passport booklet. I was the House committee chairman on NDDC. I faced this, tell me what an average Nigerian would face. It is like we are waiting for a passport to heaven,” said Tunji-Ojo.

The minister also hinted that in the foreseeable future, the Service may introduce a fast-track service at a specified fee for those who need the documents very urgently. He however said security vetting of applicants and the need to satisfy the generality of Nigerians would not be sacrificed on the altar of offering express service to a few financially buoyant individuals.

Introduction of APIS

Tunji-Ojo also disclosed that the ministry has now introduced the Advanced Passenger Information System APIS which will help the NIS in terms of border control and management.

According to him, APIS would allow the Service “to profile people and take decisions on them before they arrive our shores”.

“We have told the service providers too and they pleaded from now till February. I have added a month to them, that is March. If they don’t deliver, they would have to go and then we will get people that can deliver because the efficiency of the NIS and Nigeria cannot be sacrificed on the altar of any contract.

“We have gone through all the contracts signed by government with all service providers. We have analyzed the scope of work and performances and based on that, we have given them marching orders”, he stated.

Courier service for

home delivery

The minister also announced that as part of his desire to decongest immigration offices, he is working with the Service and her partners to see how applicants can get their passports at home or addresses of their choice.

“We have looked at the contract on courier delivery of passports. Like now, those who want the service should be able to get their passports in their offices or homes. They do not have to travel back to the immigration offices to get their passports.”

Decentralized passport front offices

He added that more Passport Front Offices would be established to bring the service closer to Nigerians, adding that applicants do not have to undergo the rigours of travelling to their state capitals or bigger towns to get their passports.

“Somebody cannot live in Akoko, my village for instance, and he needs to travel to Akure, the state capital, just for the sake of biometrics. The cost of travelling, the risks to life and the inconveniences – these are the issues we are trying to tackle.

“So, the passport front offices and our foreign missions, people travel from an extreme part of Canada with their young children and the elderly, and they need to fly or travel by road to our mission to get passports. So, from next year, we will activate the passport front offices. We have given our service providers a standing instruction.”

Passport tracking

“We are also looking at having a passport tracking system that can be done via mobile phones. Nigerians should be able to know the status of their applications without having to wait for any SMS and if there is an unnecessary delay, then we can escalate.

“For complaints, we have a desk in the ministry here. The number is 0802 375 3414, preferably SMS and Whatsapp. We also have an email address

“We have designated somebody to be in charge of these complaints here in the ministry. That is her only job”, he added.


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