The Federal High Court in Abuja has fixed March 7 to hear a suit filed by a Lagos-based woman, Benita Ezemezu, who accused the Nigerian Immigration Service of delaying the issuance of her passport.
The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, is also a defendant in the suit filed before Justice J.K. Omotosho.
In her original summons, Ezemezu claimed that after payment of statutory fees and completing the biometric verification and capturing, the NIS failed to issue her with her passport for over 14 weeks.
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She said failure to issue her passport in a timely manner might cost her an all expense-paid trip to the United States.
According to her, she is at the final stage for consideration by the United States Embassy as part of the 2023 cohort of the ‘highly competitive’ Young African Leaders Initiative Mandela Washington Fellowship.
“I came across a media reportage where the second respondent (Aregbesola) announced that the Nigerian passport would be processed and issued in six weeks.
“In further search by me, I discovered that the first respondent (NIS) also published the said information, confirming the six-week’ timeline for processing of Nigerian passport on its official website.
“The non-issuance of my passport has denied me the opportunity to attend an event at Lusaka, Zambia, for which my organisation had made payment for accommodation, flight and other related expenses,” she said.
“On November 21, four days after the expiration of the six weeks provided to on my date of capturing, I made another visit to the passport division of the headquarters of the first respondent to register my complaint of non-issuance of my passport beyond the six weeks’ timeline given to me,” she added.
She further stated that during an interaction with an official of the NIS in their head office, it was suggested multiple times that since she was ‘trying to be smart’ and trying to follow due process, her passport application would not be processed, perhaps, for another six months unless she pays a bribe by using an officer to ‘help facilitate the application’.