The Consulate General of Nigeria in New York, Amb. Lot Egopija, says no fewer than 1,328 passports produced at the mission are yet to be collected.
Egopija told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in New York that the passports were among the backlogs cleared, but were yet to be collected by the applicants.
The Nigerian envoy said the clearing of the passport backlogs was in line with the directive of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS).
He said the backlogs were due to the shutdown of the Consulate from March 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic and the skeletal services rendered at the mission following phased resumption of activities.
The Nigerian envoy added that the consulate had also gone for passport intervention in 2019, which production it had not completed before the pandemic.
“You recalled that last year (2020), at the heart of COVID, the Consulate had gone for passport intervention in the past, in 2019 and all that.
“And they have not produced these passports due to one reason or the other but that has been done now; we need to tell those whose biometrics have been done to come and collect their passports.
“Another group of people were those who came into the Consulate and did their biometrics but due to scarcity of some materials, they were not able to get their passports.
“They were not able to get their passports produced as at the time they were asked to come for it; so, these are part of it.
“And in line with the immigration authorities, decision to produce all passports that have been applied for and biometrics taken, we are also cleaning up; all the missions has been told to do same.’’
Egopija said the Consulate was doing everything possible to ensure that passports that had been produced got to the owners.
The envoy said that those living far away from New York should not bother coming to the mission to collect their passports.
“All they (applicants outside New York area) need to do is to send self-addressed envelopes that will tally with the addresses they gave to us when they did those passports in that wise.
“We will get to them but for few that have come in here; we ascertain if they are collecting their passports so that it will not get into wrong hands.
“For those who may not have access to the website, we have also done a WhatsApp group and will also be forwarding it to all the associations that are registered with the mission.
“These associations will in turn inform their members who are affected to come forward for their passports.
“We are trying to ensure that every Nigerian who has applied and has his or her biometrics captured gets his or her passport.
Egopija said the consulate had dedicated an hour daily, from 3 p.m to 4 p.m, for collection of passports so that it would not clock the daily routine in the mission.
He said that the response to collection had been good so far, saying: “We are beginning to receive people coming forward to collect.’’