Posted by By JAMES OJO, Abuja on
The Federal Government said on Thursday that it has lost count of the number of diplomatic passports in circulation, as former members of the National Assembly have refused to return the copies issued them after the expiration of
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Hakeem Baba Ahmed told the House of Representatives probing the death of a Nigerian deportee from Spain, Osamuyi Akpitanhi in the hands of the Spanish security officers.
He said government’s patience was running out, as it had waited enough for the return of the diplomatic passports, saying that such passports would be cancelled.
With the refusal of the former lawmakers to return the passports, the permanent secretary lamented that it was becoming difficult to control the issuance.
He stated that government was trying to tidy up the issuance of diplomatic passports, which he noted have not conferred extra privileges on the bearers in foreign countries because of abuse.
He said: “How then do we police the system and impose discipline? The people with diplomatic passports are very few, but please if you are not entitled to it, don’t carry it. If you do and in a group of seven Nigerians they see five diplomatic passports, in the name of God, which country will issue passports in that quantity?”
Dr. Ahmed added that apart from merely indicating that one is more than just a civil servant or a little above ordinary citizen, the passport has no added value.
He added, “you may as well carry your green passport.One of the things we are trying to do is to tidy up the system, the issuance of the passport, the security of the passport, the kind of people who take this passport. If we can police the system here, it will make it easy for us to say to any country that anyone holding the diplomatic passport is entitled to certain privileges and you must bestow those privileges on them.”
On what the ministry has done over the death of the Nigerian, the permanent secretary revealed that King Juan Carlos of Spain has assured that there would be no cover up in the investigation of the murder of Osamuyi, stressing that the Spanish government regards the incident as sad, and has given its word that everything would be done to speed up the process of investigation.
Dr. Ahmed stated that the ministry was so far satisfied with level of assurances from the Spanish government but left open the possibilities of an independent autopsy whenever the result of the one ordered by the Spanish government was available and not satisfactory.
A witness to the murder of Osamuyi, Lanre Obafemi testified before the committee. He showed a rope used to tie the late Osamuyi.
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