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Saturday, 15 June 2019

Ex-govs, Ministers Refuse To Surrender Diplomatic Passports

Ex-govs, Ministers Refuse To Surrender Diplomatic Passports

Comptroller-General of Immigration, Muhammad Babandede

A diplomatic passport holder has free access to diplomatic lounges and consul licence number plate, among other privileges.

About three weeks after leaving office, former  governors, ministers and lawmakers have yet to return  their diplomatic  passports.

According to the  law, holders of such  passports  are  required to return them to  the Nigeria Immigration Service at the expiration of their tenure.

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But findings by Saturday  PUNCH on Friday indicated that most of the holders of the diplomatic passports were illegally holding on to them.

A diplomatic passport  holder  has free access to diplomatic lounges and consul licence number plate, among other privileges.

A Punch correspondent also learnt that ex-commissioners, top Federal Civil Service officials and council bosses were among those yet to  surrender their diplomatic passports.

It was learnt that only former presidents, vice-presidents and heads of states are qualified to hold on  to their diplomatic passports for life.

Other political appointees or officials of government cease to hold the document as soon as they are out of office.

The Comptroller-General of Immigration, Muhammad Babandede, had earlier told a correspondent in an interview that former lawmakers who did not return their diplomatic passports would not receive their severance packages.

He said  he had written to the National Assembly to tie  payment of such ex-lawmakers’ terminal benefits to the return of the diplomatic  passports issued to them.

Babandede added that the passports  would be seized at the airport from all ineligible persons.

He said, “For the incoming National Assembly members, we have written to the Clerk (of  the National Assembly) that they should tie their benefits to the return of their diplomatic passports.

“Any member of the Senate or House of Representatives leaving office must return their  diplomatic passport before getting  their  severance benefits. The clerk has accepted the condition.”

When asked about the level of compliance to the directive by ineligible holders of the diplomatic and official passports, spokesman for the NIS, Sunday James,  said, “Our lawmakers and officials are responsible Nigerians and we believe that they will return the travel documents as soon as possible.”

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