Comptroller-General of Immigration, Muhammad Babandede
About three weeks after leaving office, former governors, ministers and lawmakers have yet to return their diplomatic passports.
According to the law, holders of such passports are required to return them to the Nigeria Immigration Service at the expiration of their tenure.
But findings by Saturday PUNCH on Friday indicated that most of the holders of the diplomatic passports were illegally holding on to them.
A diplomatic passport holder has free access to diplomatic lounges and consul licence number plate, among other privileges.
A Punch correspondent also learnt that ex-commissioners, top Federal Civil Service officials and council bosses were among those yet to surrender their diplomatic passports.
It was learnt that only former presidents, vice-presidents and heads of states are qualified to hold on to their diplomatic passports for life.
Other political appointees or officials of government cease to hold the document as soon as they are out of office.
The Comptroller-General of Immigration, Muhammad Babandede, had earlier told a correspondent in an interview that former lawmakers who did not return their diplomatic passports would not receive their severance packages.
He said he had written to the National Assembly to tie payment of such ex-lawmakers’ terminal benefits to the return of the diplomatic passports issued to them.
Babandede added that the passports would be seized at the airport from all ineligible persons.
He said, “For the incoming National Assembly members, we have written to the Clerk (of the National Assembly) that they should tie their benefits to the return of their diplomatic passports.
“Any member of the Senate or House of Representatives leaving office must return their diplomatic passport before getting their severance benefits. The clerk has accepted the condition.”
When asked about the level of compliance to the directive by ineligible holders of the diplomatic and official passports, spokesman for the NIS, Sunday James, said, “Our lawmakers and officials are responsible Nigerians and we believe that they will return the travel documents as soon as possible.”