THE machine-readable passport (MRP) expected to be phased out as a valid travel document by the end of December 2010 and replaced with the harmonised ECOWAS biometrics passport (e-passport) has been extended to the end of April 2011.

Minister of Interior, Emmanuel Ihenacho, made the disclosure at a media briefing on the 2010 Ministerial Scorecard of the ministry yesterday in Abuja.

Ihenacho stated that the earlier date had to be reviewed given the anticipated rush by those yet to change to the harmonised ECOWAS e-passport before the deadline.

The Interior Minister, while listing the achievements of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), Nigerian Prisons and the Federal Fire Service, also disclosed that due to the demand for the e-passport by Nigerians in the Diaspora, the NIS had provided 15 mobile enrolment machines with 135 officers trained for passport intervention programme on six continents to meet the demand.

Also, Minister of Information and Communications, Prof. Dora Akinyuli, who chaired the event, argued that the transparency preached by the current federal administration called for its agencies and departments to "tell what they are doing, what the challenges are and what their future projections will be".