Three suspects allegedly involved in passport racketeering have been arrested by operatives of the Ondo State Command of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS).
The suspects, identified as Etaoghere Cyril, Okunika Joy, and Adehaka Blessing, were paraded at the NIS passport office in Akure, the capital of the state.
Parading the suspects, the command’s Public Relations Officer, Deputy Superintendent Oladapo Bayode, said they charged N80,500 for a 32-page, five-year validity passport, N100,500 for a 64-page, five-year validity passport, and N165,000 for a 64-page, 10-year validity passport.
According to Bayode, the action of the racketeers is against the widely publicised cost of passports on the NIS official website.
Bayode maintained that the arrest of the suspects was a sequel to a series of complaints from some members of the public about the lapses in passport administration that perpetrated fraud.
He said: “On hearing of such a syndicate in Akure, the PCO sent an officer to disguise himself as a civilian looking to obtain a passport.
“We must make it known to members of the public that the Nigerian passport being issued by the Nigeria Immigration Service is neither a commodity that can be bargained over nor a service that NIS employs agents to carry out on her behalf. Again, I would like to state that the era of waiting for months to obtain a passport is over.
“We want to use this medium to encourage citizens of the state and environs who wish to apply for a Nigerian passport to approach the Nigeria Immigration Service, Akure Passport Office along Igbatoro Road, Alagbaka, Akure. Your passports will be out within two weeks as directed by the Minister of Interior.”
One of the suspects disclosed that he collected money from his victim, who fell for his scam on Facebook.