The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), has cleared the air on the recent report that the National e-Identity Card will soon be used as an alternative travelling document to the international passport.
Reacting to the report, Head, Card Management Service, NIMC, Mr. Tunji Durodola, said “the Commission cannot be canvassing the use of the new national e-ID Card as an alternative to the international passport when that is the exclusive statutory responsibility of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS).”
According to Durodola, although one of the 13 applets found in the National e-ID Card has travel functionality for certain types of travels, the decision to adopt the e-ID Card and the operational modalities remain the responsibility of the NIS. “If and when it decides on this, the process can then be defined and implemented by the NIS, which has the sole responsibility for migration management in Nigeria as the issuing authority for passport and travel documents in line with ICAO regulations.”
He explained that even where there are regional requirements in the ECOWAS, which is part of the reasons for the inclusion of the ICAO-Travel functionality in the e-ID Card, it can only be adopted and implemented by the NIS, which has the responsibility by law to provide international passport and related documents for citizens who wish to travel out of the country.
He said that the Commission was deeply embarrassed by the recent reports and therefore clarified that although the applet on the card issued to Nigerians is a bona fide Machine Readable Travel Document (MRTD), recognized by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the NIS has to approve its use before it can become a travel document recognized by NIS and therefore all such institutions with which NIS has bilateral and or collaborating/reciprocating relationship because travel documents are the sole, statutory and exclusive responsibility of the NIS.
Durodola said: “For any country to recognize the use of the National e-ID Card for cross-border travel, its usage must be the product of a bilateral agreement and NIS runs the show in that respect.
“We have only provided an early and appropriate means of achieving that so we do optimize the resources we have as is done in Europe. That’s all we did. For this to be possible, the Nigeria Immigration Service alone not even with NIMC, must approve the process.”