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Nigerian Immigration Act, 2015 is in line with international best practices, says Azinge

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Epiphany Azinge

The former director-general of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS), Prof. Epiphany Azinge (SAN) has declared that with the 2015 Immigration Act, Nigeria could now boast of a piece of legislation that is in line with international best practices.

The Act, he said, is quite commendable, adding that the same cannot be said of policy considerations that dictate the approach to immigration issues in Nigeria.

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The don made the statement in a speech he delivered at the Gregory University, Uturu, titled: “The Future of Immigration Law and Policy in Nigeria.”

According to him, Nigeria’s liberal and non-discriminatory immigration policy, which is based on the principles of ‘’accommodation’’, ‘’tolerance’’ and ‘’humanitarian’’ considerations may not be easily jettisoned by successive governments in Nigeria.

This, he said, is further accentuated by the overwhelming effect of ECOWAS treaty and protocols.

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His words: “This is an aspect we must rethink for the future. National security considerations must also be given top priority in immigration conversations and policy formulations.

“As already posited, immigration service must brace up for the challenges of the future by ensuring that it is properly equipped with state–of–the–art gadgets for effective monitoring of various immigration posts – especially in the control and surveillance of land borders considered to be very porous. In this regard, one will readily recommend the use of drones and satellite gadgets to monitor movements across our land borders.

“Tangentially related to the above is human capital development for the immigration service. The service must relentlessly build capacity to meet the challenges of the moment. Above all, more personnel will be needed to man the vast land borders in Nigeria. Government must provide for the recruitment of personnel.

“In the same vein, the immigration service must be enhanced for procurement of adequate infrastructure necessary for efficient performance.”

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Citing the case of Shugaba Abdulrahaman V Federal Minister Of Internal Affairs, he said that deportation and expulsion are generally the sore points in immigration cases, adding that the decision, in that case, was heart warming for the simple reason that the court was able to resist the politicization of deportation matters. According to him, such decisions must endure if the country is to develop an immigration law jurisprudence that is unfettered by political considerations.

“Finally, it is hereby suggested that apart from the capacity to trace illegal migrants, our immigration service must devise means of tracking legal migrants, who may have breached conditions for their entry. This is the only way they can be sanctioned for violation of immigration law.

“Once illegal migrants and ECOWAS citizens believe that our immigration service lacks the capacity to enforce violations, the tendency is to honour our immigration law more in the breach than the observance,” he said.

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