The Furore Over Diplomatic Passport | Independent Newspapers Limited
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The Furore Over Diplomatic Passport

Posted: Sep 10, 2015 at 12:52 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

This week the media was awash with the Federal Government’s decision to revoke Diplomatic and Official Passports of former Governors, Local Government Chairmen, their deputies, Ministers, Commissioners, Special Advisers, Special Assistants, Federal and States legislators, heads of government parastatals and certain categories of senior government officers.

Editorial cartoon

Editorial cartoon

According to Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), Mr. Martin Kure Abeshi, “Failure to comply with this directive will amount to an offence under the Immigration Act 2015. Such authorized possession will be impounded at our control posts on arrival or departure.”  This is because these former public officers failed to return their Diplomatic Passports as provided under the guidelines in which they were issued to them.

This newspaper welcomes the move to retrieve the passports because they remain the property of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and can be withdrawn at any time. It is important to note that Nigerian Diplomatic Passport is issued to every diplomat to work for Nigeria in foreign countries. A major requirement for applying for Diplomatic Passport is an Introductory Letter from the appointing ministry, department, or government institution.

Apart from former Presidents and Heads of State, once a Diplomatic Passport holder is no longer in public office, the passport will be withdrawn from him or her. It is therefore illegal for former public officers, other than former Presidents or Heads of State, to hold on to Diplomatic Passport.

We however believe that the furore over the withdrawal of Diplomatic Passport could have been better handled, instead of the forceful manner that the government is threatening to employ. After all, the procedure for obtaining the Diplomatic Passport is clearly stated on the website of the Nigerian Immigration Service.

As everyone knows, the privileges that accompany Diplomatic Passport do not encourage easy surrender. We therefore want to suggest that Diplomatic Passport should henceforth expire the day the term of an elected or appointed public officer expires. We also think that those responsible for enforcing compliance with this requirement would have done so before now, if there was a substantive Minister in office.

We must also add that because of the failure of former public officers to voluntarily return their expired Diplomatic Passport, there is need for the government to issue a public communication to remind them.