The Comptroller-General, Nigeria Immigration Service, Mrs Rose Uzoma, said on Thursday that henceforth, ECOWAS citizens without valid travel documents would not be allowed into the country.
Uzoma, who said this in Abuja at a meeting with the state comptrollers and assistant comptrollers of immigration, urged them to be more proactive in the management of the country’s borders.
“I will no longer tolerate a situation where other law enforcement agencies are invited to help us do our jobs; we must use what we have to make a difference as immigration officers.
“Before now, our duties were relegated to issuing passports but as a paramilitary organisation, we have to do more in our duty of controlling people who come into the country.
“In the past, we allowed ECOWAS citizens to come into the country provided they did not constitute a problem to the country, but the current security challenges in the country has made it necessary to ensure that only legal foreigners come into the country.”
She said that the ECOWAS protocol on the free movement of people had been misunderstood to mean entry without valid documents and urged the officers to ensure strict compliance by denying entry to such people.
Uzoma said more officers had been posted to the local government areas bordering other countries for re-enforcement, effective patrol and control of the borders.
According to her, 52,382 foreigners, mostly ECOWAS nationals, were repatriated between January and July as a result of the closure of some of the country’s borders.
She also said that 1, 245,254 foreigners came into Nigeria between January and July while 1,504,708 left the country.
The comptroller-general also said that the new visa policy approved by the Federal Government would aid economic development.
She said the policy was aimed at providing a “soft ground” for Nigerians in the Diaspora who were forced to renounce their nationality by countries that did not approve of dual citizenship.
Uzoma said the new visa policy would also aid investment by foreigners in the country