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Like Nigeria, Ghana says no passport from 2018 without national ID

Barely two months after the Head of Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) in collaboration with the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) said effective January 2018, no application for International Passport without National Identity Number (NIN), will be attended to, Ghanaian Minister of Foreign Affairs & Regional Integration, Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey weekend announced that issuance of Ghanaian passports to prospective applicants shall from next year be based on possession of National Identity Card (NID).

However, Ghana is yet to launch NID which government said would become the primary document for the issuance of Ghanaian passports.

The Minister explained that a major challenge in the passport application process is the lack of a national identity card, which is versatile with enhanced security features and a secured database, which would facilitate verification of the cards.

In her remarks at the Parliament on passport acquisition and some challenges of non Ghanaians acquiring Ghanaian passports, Ms Botchwey stressed that “it is a crime against the State for a foreigner to acquire or attempt to acquire a Ghanaian passport.”

The minister made the revelation while responding to a question asked by Hon. Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, representing North Tongu on measures the Ministry is putting in place to prevent non-Ghanaian citizens from acquiring Ghanaian passports.

She was quick to admit that a few foreigners had attempted to acquire the Ghanaian passport and quite a few had succeeded through dubious means over the years

The Minister noted that “The Ministry has consistently taken a number of measures towards ensuring the security and integrity of the Ghanaian passport, as well as instituting the necessary safeguards to prevent the acquisition of the Ghanaian passport by non-Ghanaians or foreigners.”

“There are rigorous physical verification of prospective applicants as well as their citizenship documents by the security agencies at the Passport Office, the Bureau of National Investigation, the Defence Unit of the Ghana Armed Forces, the National Security Secretariat, the Ghana Immigration Service and the Births and Deaths Registry.

“These agencies, working in tandem with the Passport Office, have deployed trained officers at all PACs in Ghana, who have been tasked to physically verify every single applicant, interrogate applicants to ascertain nationality and verify all documents presented for the purposes of acquiring a Ghanaians passport before recommending applicants for approval by Director at the PACs,” Ms Botchwey averred.

Here in Nigeria, there was high level apprehension since the NIS gave the condition that all prospective passport applicants must show their NIN from next due to limited number of access points by the NIMC.

In a recent media chat with Business Hilights, the Director General of NIMC, Engineer Aliyu Aziz corroborated the position of NIS, saying NIN access is being made simple with the opening up of new centre by the agency.

According to him, NIMC has placed serious emphasis on NIN as the first stage towards harmonizing biometric data of Nigerians.

He said any Nigerian without Nin can approach all NIMC offices and other designated centre to register and get their printout immediately so as to speed up the ongoing national biometric database hamonisation by the agency.

Enginner Aziz revealed that NIMC is collaborating with several agencies and bodies to achieve one national biometric data base within the shortest time possible.

Some of the biometric data collecting agencies and bodies in Nigeria include banks for BVN, Federal Road Safety Corp (FRSC) for driving licence, Telecoms networks for SIM registeration, Motor Vehicle Licencing for car number plates and NIS for international passport issuance.