The consulate general of Nigeria in New York, Mr. Benaoyagha, has said that his office has over 1,000 unclaimed e-passports and appealed to Nigerians to pick them up.
He said in a statement that a backlog of passport and visa applications was constantly being cleared in line with government operational guidelines.
The consul general however denied allegation of shady deals at the consulate saying it adopts the highest standard and best practices obtainable in any other consulate as it relates to e-passport and visa production.
The statement reads: “Despite the pressure and challenges of December rush in New York, occasioned by the temporary lack of e-passport booklets in other Missions in USA, no charge of $200 or any other fee is made by applicants for same-day e-passport service.
“The procedure for timely issuance of passport and visa has been simplified and further streamlined, and well known to the public. We have also worked hard to ensure that New York Consulate never runs short of e-passport booklets to avoid any disruption in our services.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the consulate fully keys into the anti-corruption agenda of the federal government of Nigeria and will, therefore, spare no one in the consulate against whom any allegation of unethical practice can be proven.
“Furthermore, the consulate operates an open-door policy and encourages Nigerians to report any misdemeanor on the part of any of its official to my office. My telephone numbers and email addresses are well publicized for this purpose.
“Besides, a special help-desk has been introduced with dedicated phone lines for applicants to contact officials in the Consulate on any issue for quick response to inquiries without undue delay.
“Similarly, Thebez Global is the only company that handles bio-metric visa processing on behalf of the consulate in the VFS Centre at 145 West 45 Street, New York.
“The consulate therefore wishes to dissociate itself from any other third-party service providers or unauthorized agents in accessing services provided by the consulate general of Nigeria in New York.
“Consequently, any payment made by applicants to any unauthorized third-party service provider should not be misconstrued or translated to mean payment to the Consulate General or its officials.
“As a standard practice, E-Passports are expected to be renewed six months before their expiration. It is sad to note that some Nigerians, who usually book flights far ahead of travel dates, would sometimes forget to apply for passport renewal until the last minute.
“Nigerians are encouraged to be more proactive and desist from putting undue pressure on the officials of the consulate who are sometimes harassed and assaulted for insisting on strict adherence to the appointment dates given to applicants.
“I wish to reiterate the commitment of the consulate general of Nigeria in New York to continued quality services delivery within the limited manpower and resources, and to effectively cover our consular jurisdiction.
“We call on applicants to avoid third-party service providers or agents, as the Consulate does not recognize their services.
“Applicants are urged to apply for Nigerian E-passports and Visas early enough through the official websites: www.nigeriahouse.com or The Nigeria Immigration Service to avoid the last-minute rush that usually overstretches the manpower and facilities in the Consulate.”