- President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday, declared six-month amnesty to migrants who have stayed in Nigeria beyond 90 days without resident permit.
He said that the period would enable the migrants register with the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) to avoid having challenges with immigration laws.
The president made the declaration at the inauguration of the Migrant E-Registration and Data Processing Centres at NIS Headquarters in Abuja.
Represented by Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, Buhari said that the E-Registration was significant to the country’s drive for robust internal security and national development.
“It is on this note, therefore, that I am declaring a six-month amnesty period for illegal migrants already in the country to submit themselves to the Nigerian Immigration Service for the purpose of this registration.
“The registration will be carried out without any payment or penalties.
“I’m enjoining all migrants staying in Nigeria whether regularly or otherwise, to take advantage of the amnesty window to register with the Nigeria Immigration Service.
“I also urge Nigerians to embrace the new passport reforms and I task the Nigerian Immigration Service to replicate the passport application processing centres nationwide so as to enhance transparency and elimination of corruption in the system.”
He stated that the event reflected government’s deliberate commitment to harnessing accurate data of citizens and statistics of migrants, especially those who wished to stay beyond 90 days in Nigeria.
“While the migrant e-registration centre will collate and store data of non-Nigerians within our shores, the passport application processing centre on the other hand, will provide improved issuance of passports.
“It will also eliminate touting as well as corruption in line with government’s policies on Ease-of-Doing Business, thus promoting transparency and efficiency in service delivery.”
The president also pointed out that the migrant e- registration would flag-off the e-registration of all migrants in Nigeria to aid internal monitoring and integration, and assured government’s commitment to promoting fundamental rights of migrants.
“However, we have the responsibility to know who lives among us and what they do.
“This administration has approved the comprehensive passport reform aimed at enhancing the country’s identity-management, among other things.
“Accordingly, in line with our administration’s commitment to local content act, I have directed that the production of passport be domesticated in Nigeria to build capacity of indigenous firms that enable seamless service delivery.
“This must be done with care so that the process is not interrupted,” Buhari said.
He expressed joy over the successful integration of data between NIS and the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), particularly as it was done in the spirit of achieving one data for each Nigerian.
“This integration of data, we hope will be achieved in the e-registration of migrants.
“Other ministries, departments and agencies are therefore, enjoined to emulate the effective collaboration as a way forward toward nation building,” he said.
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Mrs Georgina Ehuriah, had said that the programme reflected government’s commitment to harness accurate data of citizens and migrants, especially those willing to stay beyond the 90 days grace period.
“We wish to use the migrant e-registration centre as our platform for the internal monitoring and integration of migrants.
“As you all may probably be aware, there is a very important aspect of an effective domestic security architecture which is the mandate of the ministry of interior.
“The aspect is the existence of accurate data on who lives among us, what do they do and how do they move across our borders,” she said, adding that the programme would enhance national security.
On his part, Comptroller-General of NIS, Mr Muhammad Babandede, said the new policy didn’t bother if a migrant had been in Nigeria for 20 years without resident permit as it was not an offence.
He, however, stressed that “you now have been given amnesty to register within six months.
“Usually if any migrant over stays and the person wants to cross our border we stop him to pay a penalty for overstay.
“So that penalty is no longer valid for a period of six months. This should be seen as a great incentive to migrants to register,” Babandede said.
He said that migrant registration, like the passport, would be linked with National Identity Ecosystem to generate a unique number that would connect to all identity systems in Nigeria.
“We are actualising the dream of this administration of one-man-one-identity,” he stated