The Nigeria Immigration Services in Edo State in collaboration with the state government, has apprehended more than 300 illegal immigrants in the state during operation conducted in the three senatorial districts of the state.
Controller of Immigration, Edo Command, Mr David Akwo, said, yesterday, that 120 of those arrested would be deported, while the Malians among them would be handed over to authorities of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, in line with UN resolution.
Parading the illegal immigrants at the command headquarters, Akwo cautioned citizens of West African countries not to misconstrue the ECOWAS Protocol on movement of citizens of member states across the region.
He said, “You are all aware that recently, foreigners have been arrested for crimes in the state. So with the assistance of the governor, we decided to raid and apprehend illegal immigrants.
“In the course of that, we arrested about 400 persons, but during our screening we found out that some of them are Nigerians, so we left those ones. And of course some of these immigrants who have legal documents that qualify them to stay, we had to release them too.
“That left us with 120 illegal immigrants who do not possess valid travelling documents, so they are liable to be sent back to their countries.''
On ECOWAS protocool of free movement, he said there was a proviso, that is to say for ECOWAS citizens to move freely and gain entry into ECOWAS member states, they have to possess valid travel documents.
“Secondly, they have to come in through authorized route, that is where you have immigration clearance, either through the airport or of course the sea port, where your passport will be stamped and may be given 90 days to stay.
Now, some of them present National ID cards but you and I know that these are not travelling documents, they are just to identify you as citizen of your country. So all these persons here majority are Nigerien, we have a few Ghananians, we have some from Guinea, we have Malians and or two Chadians.