The Federal Government has commenced the implementation of visa-on-arrival policy for Africans, despite several objections raised by the Senate.
The visa-on-arrival policy commenced on January 1, as planned, reports PUNCH.
In December 11, 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari, announced the visa-on-arrival policy for Africans at the Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development in Africa, in Cairo, Egypt.
But, the announcement was greeted with criticisms by many Nigerians who believe the policy might worsen the security challenges facing the country.
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Also the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbosola, and the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Muhammed Babandede, were summoned by the Senate immediately Buhari made the announcement, to brief them on the policy.
The resolution was sequel to a motion sponsored by the Senator representing Ekiti North, Olubunmi Adetunmbi, when he drew the attention of his colleagues to the fact that the executive did not carry the legislature along before coming up with the policy. Adetunmbi is also the chairman, Senate Committee on National Planning.
The Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, in his contribution, had said Nigerians were worried about the policy because of a spate of insecurity in the country caused by some foreigners coming in.
“We want to make sure that we take care of our citizens before we start taking care of the whole Africa,” he added.
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Senator Gabriel Suswam also said that since the President made a policy statement “it is now incumbent on him as Mr President to also direct the necessary authorities to bring the Immigration Act for us to amend.”
On his part, Senator Abba Moro, who is a former Minister of Interior, said when international agreements were entered into by Nigeria, they should be properly domesticated to give them a bite of legality and legitimacy.
Also, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, called on the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to forward all treaties and agreements entered into by the Federal Government to the National Assembly for ratification.
Lawan thereafter threw the matter up for vote and a majority of the senators voted against the policy.
But findings on Saturday showed that the immigration service had begun the implementation of the policy, the news medium reports.
It was further learnt that a border management technology known as the Migration Information Data Analysis System (MIDAS) had been activated at all the international airports before the commencement of the policy.
They include the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja; Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja; Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano and the Port Harcourt International Airport.
The MIDAS collects, processes, stores and analyses migrant information in real-time across the border network and provides a strong statistical base for security, migration policy, and planning.
It automatically captures travellers’ biographic and biometric data through the use of document readers, webcams and fingerprint readers for the purpose of identification, biometric verification, inspecting, authenticating travel document and collecting and analysing data of migrant information in real-time across the border network.
Before a traveller arrives at a border crossing point, the MIDAS is able to check incoming Advanced Passenger Information data against international alert lists from the International Police Organisation and other security agencies.
Meanwhile, the NIS has also posted necessary information on the revised visa process on its website to guide prospective applicants. It described the facility as a class of short visit visa issued at the port of entry to frequently travelled high net-worth investors and intending visitors who may not be able to obtain the visas at the Nigerian Missions and Embassies in their countries of residence due to the absence of a Nigerian mission in those countries or exigencies of urgent business travels.
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Intending visitors are required to obtain a visa approval letter before proceeding to Nigeria.
The NIS post read in part, “Visa approval letter is a document approved by the Nigeria Immigration Service headquarters that allows a traveller to proceed to Nigeria to pick up entry visa at the point of entry.
“Visa approval letter normally takes two working days to process and e-mailed to you and your representative/contact who applied on your behalf in Nigeria through email or your representative/contact in Nigeria. Visa on arrival is not valid for employment or residence.”
Applicants are required to have a passport with six months validity period and were expected to proceed to the visa on arrival section for approval verification, biometric enrollment, and issuance of entry visa upon arrival at the port of entry.
The applicant will be required to present their approval letter, passport, evidence of payment, evidence of accommodation in Nigeria and return ticket.
Spokesperson for the NIS, DCI Sunday James, told newsmen in Abuja on Saturday that the service personnel were ready to implement the visa policy as directed by the Federal Government.
He stated, “At the point of entry, biometric capture is carried out by the MIDAS, a technological tool that collects the data of migrants with Iris facilities for facial capture apart from the fingerprints for a two-step security verification process.”
“All NIS personnel working at our service windows, especially at the entry and exit points, have requisite knowledge of the visa policy and service direction using the criteria for security, economy and transparency as a fool-proof measure.”