Association Of Nigerians In UK, CANUK, Writes Buhari’s Minister, Seeks Resumption Of Fask-track Passport Service

THE Central Association of Nigerians in the UK (CANUK) has written to the Nigerian Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola to lament the hardship caused by the scrapping of the fast-track passport application express service in the UK.
In the letter dated April 19, 2022, CANUK, the umbrella organisation of all Nigerian organisations in the European country, said the passport application process had been “hampered by the recent suspension of the fast-track express service, which enabled applicants to receive their passports within 72 hours”.

The letter was signed by members of the executive committee of CANUK namely Ayo Akinfe, Chairman; Jumoke Ariyo, Vice Chair (Passports); Titilola Danso, Secretary; and Judy Akuta, Welfare Secretary.
Titled ‘Scrapping of fast-track passport applications for Nigerians in the UK’, CANUK, in its letter, urged the Nigerian government to lift the suspension of the express service. It said the suspension had reopened the doors for touting and exploitation in visa processing in the UK.
The statement reads, “We, the undersigned members of the executive committee of the Central Association of Nigerians in the UK (Canuk), the umbrella organisation of all Nigerian organisations in the UK are writing to you on an urgent matter having consulted with other sister organisations like the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (Nido) and several other stakeholders.
“There are about 2 million Nigerians resident in the UK who are heavily dependent on the London high commission to obtain the required documents to travel back home. As the umbrella body representing all Nigerians in the UK, Canuk is saddled with the responsibility of being the go-between that acts as a bridge between the community and the high commission.
“We in Canuk helped popularise the new enhanced 10-year passport, which you launched in London in November 2021 and are pleased that the take-off of the passport has been immense. However, the application process has been hampered by the recent suspension of the fast-track express service, which enabled applicants to receive their passports within 72 hours.
“This suspension of the fast-track express service has caused untold hardship for Nigerians in the UK who need to travel urgently. Furthermore, the taking away of the right to book appointments from the London high commission and handing this responsibility to a private company in Abuja has caused nothing but chaos.
“Under the new system, it takes between eight to nine weeks to get an appointment for biometrics capture and a further one to two weeks for a passport to be processed. As a result, those who need to travel urgently are forced to apply for even more expensive visas or an Emergency Travel Certificate.
“Others are simply taking the alternative of travelling with expired passports. This compares to a situation under the previous regime whereby they actually received their passports within 72 hours of submitting their application forms. To make matters worse, the current post-fast-track regime has also resulted in the return of touts as desperate Nigerians have resorted to extreme measures in a bid to get their passports.
“We are now seeing criminal elements emerging and offering to obtain passports for applicants at a cost of £350. With the fast track service, touts were taken out of the system as people who urgently needed
their passports paid the £120 fast-track service fee straight to the government. However, with the scrapping of fast-track, people in desperate need of their passports are forced to resort to using the illicit services of touts. Given all of this, we are appealing to you to immediately reinstitute the fast-track express service and also return to the London high commission, the right to fix appointment dates.
“Canuk would highly appreciate it if you use your good office to end the suffering of the 2m Nigerians in the UK who are reeling from the punitive effects of this new policy.”