By Leke Baiyewu
The House of Representatives, on Tuesday, warned the Federal Government against terminating the contract signed with a private firm, Iris Smart Technologies Limited, for the production of electronic passports booklets.
According to the House, procuring the equipment capable of putting the latest security features in the Nigerian e-passport will cost the government about N22bn.
The legislative chamber also warned that the production and supply of 10 million booklets by the firm would be disrupted.
These are part of the recommendations contained in the report of the House Ad Hoc Committee to Investigate the Proposed Domestication and Processing of Nigerian Passport, which the lawmakers considered and adopted at the plenary on Tuesday.
In the report, the committee noted that the April 2025 renewal agreement between Iris Smart Technologies Limited and the Federal Ministry of Interior stated in Article 4:0 that the duration of the contract shall be for the delivery of an additional 10 million passport booklets.
“It will be to the legal detriment of the Federal Government to unilaterally terminate this agreement for any reason until it runs its course, which is the production of 10 million e-passports or the current remainder under the circumstances.
“The Federal Government can go into negotiations in line with Paragraph 4 above with ISTL to explore suitable options of how the e-passport infrastructure can be maintained until the contract is fully performed.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria and the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Plc should be further advised to abide by this opinion in the overall best interest of the Federal Government, in order not to incur unnecessary liability on our lean financial resources through avoidable litigation or other costlier dispute resolution mechanisms.
“It (the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Plc) requires a technology partner if it must go into the e-passport project.
“There are over N22bn worth of systems and equipment, both local and international, in this secured e-passport network. Therefore, if a new booklet solution provider is appointed, this technology infrastructure would have to be discarded. This investment would be lost and a new network must be purchased and implemented at a greater cost to the Federal Government,” the report stated.