Posted on December 23, 2019

Nigeria: No Going Back on January Crackdown on Illegal Immigrants

Jonathan Nda-isaiah et al., Leadership, December 22, 2019

Comptroller general of Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Muhammad Babandede yesterday declared that foreigners whose biometrics have not being registered will be deported from Nigeria after January 15 2020 deadline.

Babandede who made the disclosure at the graduation ceremony of 529 officers held at the Immigration Training School in Kano State, assured that millions of illegal immigrants would be deported after the six months amnesty period elapses for them to have their data registered.

He noted that while the law allows for immigrants to be registered on arrival into the country, President Muhammadu Buhari gave a six months amnesty for all foreigners to be freely registered.

He said, “People are registering and anybody who overstayed in Nigeria could register again, and be forgiven for that overstay, you start a fresh life and you will be considered for a new application  for stay in Nigeria”.

The comptroller added that “as from January 15, 2020, anybody who has not registered would be penalised and the penalty simply means removal.”

Babandede said the service aims to encourage foreigners to quickly register and save themselves from the embarrassment of deportation as well as being charged to court for other offences.

Speaking on drug test for personnel, Babandede said the service will soon commence the testing of all its staff starting with himself to show the seriousness of the program.

He stressed that as a paramilitary outfit empowered by law to carry arms, the service cannot afford to allow its personnel carry arms without being properly tested for drug abuse as part of measures to avoid harm to innocent Nigerians.

“Amongst our personnel, anybody that is found to have drugs in his blood, will be rehabilitated. We will guide him on how to make a good living, after which we will conduct another test. By the time we do three tests and there is no change it means he cannot work with us.

“The first test we intend to carry out will be on high blood Pressure. If you are one with that problem it means we can’t give you weapons. You can’t have contact with ammunition. This is very important in terms of national security, government cannot buy weapons against its citizens” he declared.

How Libyan Instability Is Destabilising West Africa – PMB

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday said the instability in Libya is a recurring threat to the Sahel and Sub-Saharan Africa. The president expressed the concern while reflecting on the growing effect of the crisis on lives in the region.

Speaking at a bilateral meeting with the President of Cote d’Ivoire, Dr Alhassan Quattara, on the margins of the 56th Ordinary session of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS), President Buhari in a statement by his media aide , Garba Shehu noted that the crisis in Libya had perpetuated instability in the West Coast, with many of the trained fighters in the country now surviving on violent crimes and terrorism.

The 56th Ordinary session of ECOWAS was held at the State House Conference Centre.

The President said the Libyan fighters, who were trained for the 43 years Muammar Gaddafi ruled the country, were armed with deadly weapons and had been roaming the Sahel and sub-Sahara sub-region, with no other skills for survival ‘‘but to shoot and kill.’’

President Buhari expressed happiness that neighbouring countries were supporting Nigeria in tackling the menace of the fighters who have teamed up with Boko Haram. He added that there was a need to do more by the West African countries, both under the ECOWAS platform and at bilateral levels.

In his remarks, President Quattara said he came to brief the Nigerian leader on progress of the ECOWAS mandate given to him to negotiate exit of Francophone West African countries from their currency union with France and European Union.

The Ivorian President said he was pleased to report that he received the full support of the French government, under President Emmanuel Macron, and that the West African States were free to leave the union and join the ‘‘Eco’’, the new currency designated for the West Coast.

President Buhari expressed delight that France did not stand in the way of the “Eco’’.

On the ongoing debate in Nigeria on foreign borrowing, President Buhari said it was necessary to fund infrastructure projects, adding that ‘‘without roads, rail and power, investors will not be encouraged to invest in the country.’’

At another bilateral meeting with the President of Sierra Leone, Julius Maada Bio, President Buhari said he was impressed with the ongoing efforts of the administration to secure and stabilise the country.

He said, “I am happy that your policies and plans are holding on. I assure you that we will continue to support you. A problem in the neighbourhood is our problem. I will keep in touch with our officials to see how we can support.’’

Earlier in his remarks, the President of Sierra Leone recalled the level of cooperation between his country and Nigeria, appreciating President Buhari for various forms of support to his country, including provision of teachers, nurses, technicians and engineers.

He said more support was needed in the economic sector to ease the growing hardship among lower segments of the country’s population.

At a bilateral with President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré of Burkina Faso, President Buhari commended the country’s leader for sustaining investment in infrastructure in spite of distractions from terrorists.

President Buhari and President Kaboré agreed to convene a meeting of the two states to discuss in greater detail issues pertaining to security and economy.

Describing Nigeria as a ‘‘power house that drives economic growth and development in the region’’, President Kaboré said his country had high expectations of their “excellent relations’’ with Nigeria.

President Buhari also had a meeting with Liberian President, George Manneh Oppong Weah and  President of Benin, Patrice Talon, at the ECOWAS summit.

ECOWAS Chair Bemoans Terrorism, Urges Proactiveness

President Mahammadou Issoufou of Niger Republic, who is the chairman, ECOWAS Authority of Heads of States and Government has urged member states to take a decisive approach to tackling terrorism in the sub-region.

Issoufou made the call in Abuja at the opening of the 56th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of States and Government.

He said that the West-African sub-region had been hard hit by terrorist attacks, which have intensified and have threatened many national and regional achievements and developments already made by member countries.

Issoufou said that it had,  therefore, become very important for member states to respond to the recurring attacks.

“The creation of a common area of peace, security and economic intergration is without the slightest doubt, the key to the future of our region.

“Current regional and global developments in security, constrain me to dwell on the security situation of our region.

“Our region has been hard hit by terrorist attacks every passing day, threatening the national and regional achievements we have made.

“We therefore hope that the prompt implementation of the recommendations of our extraordinary summit on terrorism held on September 14 in Ouagadougou will enable us to collectively meet this challenge, which appears to be an attack by faithless criminals on our dignity and sovereignty.

“The terrorist attacks continually test our commitment to fighting the scourge. It is therefore incumbent upon us to respond to all these attacks with firmness and determination,” Issoufou said.

He added that counter-terrorism had a global dimension that should make the entire international community to join in the fight.

The chairman of the meeting said that apart from the issue of regional insecurity, ECOWAS should remain focused on economic reform projects and programmes.

He stressed that it has become important for countries to step up efforts to develop economic infrastructure, boost intra-regional trade and promote macro-economic convergence.

Issoufou stressed the need for continuous work and commitment towards the implementation of the ECOWAS Single Currency, explaining that doing so would promote the socio-economic well-being of the people.

President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Brou, on his part, said the three major issues of security, political stability and economic development would require the attention of the authority of heads of states.

Brou said that the recent terrorist attacks in the region and the thoughts of many civilians and military victims would strengthen the determination of member states to collectively and effectively fight to eradicate the scourge.

“In the past 11 months of 2019, terrorist attacks increased by almost 80 per cent compared to the same period in 2018 and this caused more than 1,800 civilian casualties.

“This situation has led to humanitarian crises with the displacement of nearly 2.8 million people and the closure of hundreds of schools.

“I will like to welcome the decision of the West African Monetary and Economic Union (UEMOA)  Summit to disburse an initial amount of 100 million dollars to support this effort,” Brou said.

On the political and economic front, Brou said that the region has made good progress by deepening democracy and showing positive achievements economically.

In his remarks,  special representative of the UN Secretary General to West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Mr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, said that the root causes of terrorism should be addressed to definitively eradicate the “scourge”.

Chambas pledged the continuous support of UNOWAS to enhance coordination with ECOWAS, the G5 Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin Commission towards achieving the SDGs and long term stabilisation of the region.

He also applauded ECOWAS for the role it is playing in supporting the people of Guinea-Bissau toward the peaceful conduct of the first round of its presidential elections on November 24.