The Nigerian consulate in New York, United States of America(USA) has debunked the allegation that it charges extra $200 for same-day e-passport service.
There had been reports on social media, especially by Nigerians living in USA, that officials of the consulate charge $200 extra to issue same-day e-passport.
But a statement on Tuesday by the Consul General, Mr Benaoyagha Okoyen, dismissed the allegation and described it as an attempt to tarnish the image of “hardworking officials’’ of the consulate.
According to him, Thebez Global is the only company that handles Biometric Visa processing on behalf of the consulate at the VSF Centre located at 145 West 45 Street, New York.
He dissociated the consulate from third-party service providers or unauthorised agents, who he suggested could be responsible for the additional charges.
Okoyen stated that any payment made by applicants to third parties should not be taken as being paid to the consulate.
He said: “The Consulate has adopted the highest standard and best practices obtainable in any other consulate as it relates to E-passport and visa production.
“Despite numerous challenges, including last-minute rush by applicants, no additional 200 dollars or any other fee is charged 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 the consulate in New York never runs short of E-passport booklets to avoid any disruption in our services.”
The Consul General stressed that the consulate has fully keyed into the Federal Government’s anti-corruption agenda, and would not spare any official found wanting, noting that the consulate operates an open door policy and encourages Nigerians to always report any misdemeanor on the part of any of its officials to his office.
“My telephone numbers and email addresses are well publicised for this purpose.
“Besides, arrangements have been concluded to introduce a special help desk with dedicated phone lines to contact officers in the consulate on any issue for quick response without undue delay,” he stated.
Okoyen also used the opportunity to remind applicants on the need to renew their passports not later than six months to the expiration in line with standard practice.
He decried the attitude of some Nigerians “who usually book flight tickets far ahead of travel dates and then forget to apply for passport renewal until the last minute.”
Okoyen said Nigerians need to be more proactive and desist from putting undue pressure on officials of the consulate who he claimed are sometimes harassed and assaulted for insisting on due process.
“I wish to reiterate the commitment of the Consulate General of Nigeria in New York to continued quality service delivery within its limited resources.
“This is our goal and we will not be deterred from our responsibility despite current challenges.
“We, therefore call on applicants to avoid third-party service providers or agents, as the Consulate does not recognise their service,” the Consul General added.