The Nigerian government has warned that it would block the benefits of ex-government officials who refused to return their diplomatic passports.
Thus it has directed the Nigeria Immigration Service to write to the federal, state and local government institutions and agencies to henceforth withhold the retirement and severance benefits of former officials who did not hand over their diplomatic passports.
News men reports that the Comptroller-General of Immigration, Mohammed Babandede made the disclosure during an interview in Abuja.
“Following the reluctance of some former office-holders to return their diplomatic passports, I wrote to the Presidency and proposed that we could take certain measures to compel those who are not entitled to the diplomatic passports to return them.
“The NIS has received approval to write to federal, state and local government institutions to henceforth include the return of this government document before payment of retirement benefits.
“If you are a senator or member of the House of Representatives, before you finish your tenure, there is something that is called severance benefits and before you collect the benefits, you must return your diplomatic passport.
“Also, you cannot cross the border with the diplomatic passport whether going or coming if you are not entitled to it, we will collect it. The best I can do for you is to give you photocopy of the passport or a letter that I have confiscated the passport.”
The NIS boss said he personally warned a former minister whose identity he refused to disclose that he risked two years jail term for refusing to surrender his diplomatic passport.
“The next thing we will do is to go house-to-house to collect it. It is an offence. I told a former minister that it is an offence for you to hold a (diplomatic) passport when you don’t deserve it . It attracts two years jail term; we will soon begin to catch defaulters. People have started returning a lot of the passports,”