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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 August 2007, 13:10 GMT 14:10 UK
E-passport to check Nigeria fraud
Forged Nigerian and British passports
Nigeria's authorities are worried about increasing forgery
Nigeria is introducing a chip-based e-passport to check growing cases of forgery and identity theft, the immigration chief says.

"People have been tampering with the data page of our current passport," Chukwura Udeh told the BBC.

"We found out that some fraudulent people often peel off the data page of the passports and substitute pictures of the genuine owners with fake ones."

President Umaru Yar'Adua and some MPs have been issued new e-passports.

The new e-passport has an embedded microchip that stores personal information of the holder, Mr Udeh said.

Other Nigerians wishing to exchange their current passports for the new electronic one will have to pay an administrative fee of 8,500 naira ($67).

"The e-passport has the advantage of having the biometric data of the holder encrypted in the microchip embedded somewhere in the passport, making it impossible to tamper with," Mr Udeh told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

The Nigeria Immigration Service says it plans to phase out the machine-readable passport currently in use and replace it with the new electronic one.

But Mr Udeh says even the new one is not entirely foolproof.

"We are not saying that it is 100% foolproof, but it is a veritable tool for fighting the problems associated with the older machine-readable passport," he says.

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