Slug: Terrorism: Nigeria Moves to Tighten Immigration Laws
A Bill seeking to repeal the Nigerian Immigration Act of 1963 passed second reading in the Nigerian Senate on Tuesday.
The Bill which seeks to regulate immigration, the issuance of Nigerian passport, visas, resident and work permits.
Promoter of the Bill and Senate Majority Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, SAN, who presented the lead debate, explained that the bill was seeking the concurrence of the senate because it had earlier been passed by the House of Representatives.
Ndoma-Egba said that the Bill was also aimed at prohibiting smuggling of migrants in and out of the country and to protect and provide remedies to objects of smuggling of migrants offences in the country.
He said, “At the moment, migration in Nigeria is regulated by the Immigration Act of 1963 which established the Nigeria Immigration Service.
“It is however observed that despite the changes in the functions and activities of the Immigration Service over the years, including the change in nomenclature to the status of a full fledged Para-military service in 1992.”
According to him, the current Act provides the highest penalty prescribed is N200 of six months imprisonment. This, he said certainly did not constitute any form of deterrent to offenders and potential offenders.
The Bill makes provisions for collaboration between Public and Private Sector interest groups and stakeholders on a Public-Private Partnership Platform to attract funds for the provision and development of infrastructure and acquisition of necessary equipment.
The arrangement he further explained, would enable the Nigeria Immigration Service deploy appropriate professional skills and modern migration management facilities.
He said, “With this provision, the perennial challenge of paucity of funds which has hampered most NIS activities and operations over the years, particularly the task of effectively patrolling Nigeria’s expansive borders would be addressed.
“No doubt, the bill has several advantages. First, it will address the shortcomings in the existing law and streamline as well as harmonize most legislations relating to immigration and migrant activities in the country.
“Secondly, the bill if passed into law will discourage and reduce drastically the incidence of smuggling in persons and activities of organized criminal groups engaged in the nefarious trade and its attendant consequences on brain drain.
“It is common knowledge that many young, vibrant and skilled Africans, including Nigerians have died or ended up badly undertaking perilous journeys crossing the Sahara desert, Atlantic Ocean or Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe.
“Thirdly, the bill will enhance the capacity of NIS to effectively man the nation’s borders and help address the current security challenges faced by the country.
“Finally, the Immigration Bill will achieve a balance between facilitation of migration for legitimate purposes as well as create a better platform for Nigeria to realize the developmental benefits of migration while effectively preventing and controlling irregular or illegal migration, including the attendant.” The bill is to undergo further legislative action before it is read for the third time and passed by the Senate.
It will then be harmonized with the House version if there are differences if there are none; a clean copy is passed on to the President for his assent before it becomes law.
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