The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) on Tuesday said the successful automation and integration of its system of monitoring stolen and lost travel documents (SLTD) with the INTERPOL’s system, means the country is the first to do so in Africa.
In a statement issued on Tuesday and signed by its public relations officer, Sunday James, the NIS said by the feat, Nigeria has been ranked by the France-based international organisation “as Africa’s first country to record such success, and 54th among its 194-member nations”.
The statement reads in part; “The 150,000 SLTD uploaded records in the INTERPOL database makes Nigeria the first ranking in Africa and 54th in the world according to the INTERPOL POLICE GLOBAL SYSTEM (IPSG) ranking. Nigeria today is the leading first and only African country to have fully automated its Stolen and Lost Travel Documents database.”
NIS commended INTERPOL, the Washington-based United States National Central Bureau (USNCB), the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the National Central Bureau (NCB) of the Nigerian Police Force, for what it described as their contributions towards achieving the feat.
Commendable feat, benefits
Meanwhile, the comptroller general of the immigration service, Muhammad Babandede, has advised Nigerians against the use of any passport that may have earlier been reported lost or stolen at any of its offices globally.
In a telephone interview with our reporter, Mr Babandede expressed satisfaction with the development.
He said across INTERPOL’s 194-member states, “any Nigerian passport that may have been declared missing and registered with the system will be revealed on the spot at any the airports.”
The immigration boss said it is regrettable that many would simply report their travelling documents that are still in their custody missing and request for another one to be used for criminal purposes.
He said such is no longer possible with the automated system, and that anyone caught will face the law.
According to Mr Babandede, “the simple processes that make reproduction of lost or stolen documents possible in Nigeria are being abused by criminally-minded people,” who he noted “can decide to change the whole of their names without any cogent reason”.
“What reason on earth will make anyone want to change their names completely? Some will say because their father’s name is identified with devil or evil, they decided to change their surname to a more religious one. Some will simply say they are tired of their old names. But on a closer look, you would realise that they had committed crimes with their names and want to change their identity. But the law permits them, as long as they provide a court affidavit, among other documents.”
Mr Babadande also said the culture that permits women to constantly change their name for reasons of marriage, divorce, among others, has been used by many to perpetrate illegality.
He said these situations are what the new development has come to achieve.
“So by this development, Nigerians are advised to desist from using fake, altered, invalidated, withdrawn, stolen and lost travel documents, since the documents are automatically made available to 194 member countries of INTERPOL. In recent times, some Nigerians have been intercepted in some airports around the world for using passports which they earlier reported lost or stolen,” Mr Babandede said.