The Nigeria High Commission in London has disclosed that it suspended biometric capturing for persons interested in applying for e-passport to deliberate on issues surrounding the assault of staff members.
In a statement yesterday, the commission noted that suspension is effective from March 28, 2022.
The statement reads in part: “Nigerians in the United Kingdom would recall the deplorable situation of passport issuance and renewals after the lockdown and suspension of operations between December 2019 and April 2021.
“In order to address the issues responsible for the then anomalous situation, adequate steps were taken to address the issues of Nigerians in need of passports for urgent reasons. These critical needs sometimes build up tension and frustration which, hitherto, were responsible for multiple ugly incidents recorded in the Mission, thus exposing the entire staff to danger. Breaking of vehicle screens, knife attacks on vehicles’ tires, assaults on staff, and general insecurity in the Mission’s premises and its surroundings, were the order of the day.
“On 28th May 2021, in conjunction with the Nigerian Community in the United Kingdom, measures were put in place to restore order. Nigerians were very cooperative and appreciative of the reforms acknowledged to be in line with best practices in the United Kingdom. The smooth operations widely acclaimed by Nigerians existed till 22nd November 2021.
“At the launch of Enhanced E-passport operations in London on 23rd November 2021, Nigerians in the United Kingdom were quite optimistic of improvements in service by the Immigration Section, on the issuance of Passports.
“However, the issuance, renewal, and operations since the introduction of the new Enhanced E-passport have been fraught with many challenges, particularly on the issuance of National Identification Number (NIN) and the appointments for biometrics capture. The Mission feels and shares in the pains of teeming Nigerians since the launching of the new Enhanced E-passport scheme in the United Kingdom by the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola.
“The staff of the High Commission is currently being assaulted on regular basis on account of attendant frustrations, particularly by Nigerians who travel long distances from Scotland, Northern Ireland, Manchester, Cardiff, Birmingham, etc to the Mission in London without positive resolution of their respective consular issues. Nigerians with dual citizenship desirable of renewing their British Passports and those seeking the issuance of British Resident Permit (BRP) are also usually on edge because of the inability of the Mission to resolve their legitimate needs and requirements.
“In view of the present precarious situation similar to the situation of the past, particularly the continuous physical and verbal assaults of the staff of the Mission, a meeting of the Nigerian Community was convened to find a solution to the challenges associated with passport issuance before it deteriorates into avoidable calamities. The meeting which took place on Tuesday, 22nd March 2022, at the Conference room of the Nigeria High Commission, London, deliberated extensively on the present challenges highlighted above.
“Present at the meeting were members of the Nigerian Council of Elders in the UK, comprising Pa Adebayo Oladimeji, Arc Otunba Mobolaji Falase, Dr. Boma Douglas, Chief Fred Ajiduah, in concert with the Chairman of Central Association of Nigerians in the United Kingdom (CANUK) – Mr. Ayo Akinfe, leading the Executive members of the Association. Nigeria High Commission was led to the meeting by the High Commissioner, other members included the Deputy High Commissioner, Head of Immigration, Head of Chancery, Immigration Attachés, staff of the Consular, Education and Welfare Section.
“While reports on telephone calls received by the Mission consistently put average call logs of 84% on the frustration associated with the Enhanced E-passport, the CANUK Chairman reported that 70% of the challenges of Nigerians from December 2021 till date centered on the frustrations now associated with the new Enhanced E-Passport.
“The meeting deliberated extensively on the current challenges associated with the issuance of passports as enumerated above and agreed that drastic actions must be taken to bring succor to Nigerians in the UK. A stitch in time saves nine. The leadership of the Nigeria High Commission remains responsive to the needs and welfare of Nigerians in the United Kingdom.
“Consequently, the biometrics capture on the new Enhanced EPassport at the Nigeria High Commission in London is hereby suspended with effect from Monday, 28th March 2022, until these challenges are resolved, in the interest of the Nigerian Community in the United Kingdom.
“Whilst we regret the inconveniences the suspension may cause, the Emergency Travel Certificate window and visas for British- Nigerians are available as a stop-gap measure.”