Former Governor of Rivers State, Dr Peter Odili, has dragged the Nigeria Immigration Service, before a Federal High Court in Abuja, challenging the seizure of his passport at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
In the fundamental rights enforcement suit on Wednesday, he claimed that the international passport was seized from him on June 20, by operatives of the service and has been withheld since then.
Odili prayed the presiding judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed, to compel the service to release the passport and order a perpetual injunction against the respondents, from harassing him any further and interfering with his fundamental rights of movement.
The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has rescued 10 suspected trafficked victims along the famous Babban Mutum Axis in Katsina State.
It was gathered that the victims comprise an 11-month-old baby girl, eight women and a man are from Delta, Edo, Lagos, Enugu and Ekiti States.
They were said to have been misled by their traffickers whose business is to ferry persons across the border through illegal routes for their selfish gains.
Briefing journalists on Friday at the command headquarters in Katsina, the NIS Commander, Comptroller Abdurrazaq Mu’azu said that none of the victims was in possession of any travel document with no means of livelihood.
He noted that the victims were rescued in their attempt to cross the border to the Niger Republic en-route Libya through one of the Nigerian illegal routes.
“I will like to assure the general public that Katsina State will no longer be used as a transit route for trans-border Crimes,” he said.
“As you can see before you, these ten suspected victims of Human Trafficking will now be handed over to NAPTIP Liaison Office, Katsina for further investigation, counselling, training, rehabilitation and prosecution as the case may be.”
The NIS Commander also advised human traffickers, migrant smugglers and their collaborators to have a change of mind and stop the illegal business, adding that the Service has provided a conducive atmosphere in terms of welfare and training to counter the challenges.
He also announced that this brings a total of 33 victims of human trafficking rescued and four suspected traffickers arrested by the command from March 19 to date.
This comes about two months after two suspects were nabbed in connection with human trafficking by operatives of the Nigeria Immigration Service in Katsina State.
The suspects identified as Fatima Abdullahi, and Amadu Abdullahi, both from Lagos State were arrested on March 16th following an intelligence report received by the command.
In the process of arresting the suspects at Charanchi Patrol Base, 18 victims have been rescued.
President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) to improve surveillance and control around the nation’s borders.
Giving his speech at the virtual commissioning ceremony of the NIS Technology Building on Thursday in Abuja, he urged the NIS to collaborate with international security organisations such as INTERPOL in safeguarding the borders.
The President asked the service to ensure that criminal elements do not find Nigeria as a safe haven to hide and perpetrate their criminality.
He also instructed all security agencies to raise their performance in protecting lives and property, with a mandate that the nation’s Global Security Index must be improved.
“It is imperative that our ranking in the Global Security Index improves and I am using this medium to call on all security agencies to step up their activities towards achieving this goal.
“I assure you that the administration will give the much-needed support to you in your operations,” the President was quoted as saying in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina.
He added, “As a security agency, I charge you to be relentless in carrying out your statutory duties of keeping our borders safe … remember that a safe border is a prerequisite for a safe nation.
“You must develop strong working relationships and ties with the international community and friendly nations as it relates to migration management; adopt and implement workable strategies from them while also sharing your best practices.”
Economic Boom For Nigerians
President Buhari asked frontline workers and operators to see themselves as the nation’s windows to the world and must always show the best face of Nigeria.
He commended the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, for consistently pushing for the completion of the Technology Building, which would serve as the Command and Control Centre of the NIS, as well as the repository of personal data of Nigerians and foreigners resident in Nigeria.
“This is in line with the vision of our administration to formulate and implement policies that will protect and enhance the lives and standards of living for Nigerians.
“This administration is relentless in its avowed desire to create an enabling business environment that will usher in an economic boom for Nigerians and all those who do business with and in Nigeria,” the President said.
He also congratulated all officers and men of the NIS for their dedication and work towards changing into a ‘world-class migration management agency’.
In his remarks, Aregbesola gave an assurance that the security challenges in the country were temporal and surmountable.
He acknowledged that the “weakest link” had been the land borders and the Technology Building would play a pivotal role in the control of illegal migration.
The minister noted that the Visa-on-Arrival policy of the Federal Government has proper documentation of all entrants to ensure tight surveillance and compliance while announcing a review period of stay from 90 days to 30 days.
He said 50 percent of all immigration personnel would now work at the borders of the country.
On his part, the NIS Comptroller General of NIS, Muhammed Babandede, said the Technology Building remained the best project the service has ever initiated and completed since it was established in 1958.
He said the deployment of technology from the Control Room would optimise intelligence, ensure that no passport lost, stolen, or re-issued could be presented in any part of the world, as well as enhance synchronisation and virtual sharing of information with other security outfits, both local and international.
Aregbesola and Babandede thanked President Buhari for approving the project in 2018 and following up with the completion of all phases of the facility.
US President-elect Joe Biden plans to kick off his new administration Wednesday with orders to restore the United States to the Paris climate accord and the World Health Organization, aides said.
Biden will sign 17 orders and actions just hours after being sworn in as US leader to break from policies of departing President Donald Trump and set new paths on immigration, the environment, fighting Covid-19 and the economy, they said.
In first-day moves, he will end Trump’s much-assailed ban on visitors from several majority-Muslim countries and halt construction of the wall that Trump ordered on the US-Mexico border to stem illegal immigration, the aides said.
He will also set a mask mandate on federal properties to stem the spread of Covid-19; restore protections of valuable nature reserves removed by Trump; and seek freezes on evictions and protection for millions behind on their mortgages due to the coronavirus pandemic.
He also plans to send a bill to Congress to revamp immigration policies and give millions of undocumented migrants living inside the country a path to citizenship that the Trump administration denied.
Biden’s staff said he wanted to hit the ground running given the deep health and economic challenges facing the country.
Biden “will take action — not just to reverse the gravest damages of the Trump administration — but also to start moving our country forward,” the aides said in a statement.
“These actions are bold, begin the work of following through on President-elect Biden’s promises to the American people, and, importantly, fall within the constitutional role for the president.”
– New approach to Covid –
Many of the actions will take government policies back to where they were on January 19, 2017 — the final day of the Barack Obama-Joe Biden administration, before Trump entered office and took a wrecking ball to many of their initiatives.
Jeff Zients, the new president’s point-man for fighting the pandemic, said Biden would start by establishing an office of Covid-19 response inside the White House.
A 100-day “masking challenge” will be led with a presidential order for wearing masks in all federal properties and activities, setting the standard for private companies, individual states and communities to follow suit, Zients said.
Wednesday “starts a new day, a new, different approach to managing the country’s response to Covid-19 crisis,” he said.
That includes reversing Trump’s decision to leave the World Health Organization.
To underscore Biden’s decision, Zients said, leading US coronavirus expert Anthony Fauci will lead a delegation to take part in the WHO Executive Board meeting on Thursday.
“America’s withdrawal from the international arena has impeded progress on the global response and left us more vulnerable to future pandemics,” he said.
Gina McCarthy, the new administration’s chief climate advisor, said returning to the 2016 Paris accord was essential to making fighting climate change a central tenet of Biden administration policy.
Biden will reverse Trump decisions to ease emissions and efficiency standards, and rescind the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, a large project that would bring relatively high-polluting Canadian oil into the United States.
“The day-one climate executive orders will begin to put the US back on the right footing, a footing we need to restore American leadership, helping to position our nation to be the global leader in clean energy and jobs,” said McCarthy.
Other actions by the new president will require a government-wide, proactive equality effort for minority groups, in hiring, contracting, and service.
“The President-elect has promised to root out systemic racism from our institutions,” said Susan Rice, his Domestic Policy Council director.
“Nigeria has spoken with a political voice through actions that is why you see greater cooperation from our neighbours.
“I am glad in terms of immigration, within the period we closed the borders, we have received a lot of people who have left our territory through the unlawful path. Those people, we have taken to court and prosecuted them,” he added.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on August 2019 shut Nigeria’s land borders to curtail illegal importation of drugs, small arms and agricultural products into the country from neighbouring West African nations.
The President, however, ordered the immediate reopening of the borders on December 16, 2020.
Human rights lawyer and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana, has called for the renewal of the passports of the #EndSARS Protesters
Falana made this call in a statement he personally signed on Sunday, identifying the affected protesters as Bolatito Rachael Oduala, Mary Oshifowora and Mosopeoluwa Odeseye.
“The Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond (ASCAB) has confirmed that the Nigeria Immigration Service has willfully refused to renew the passports of Bolatito Rachael Oduala, Mary Oshifowora and Mosopeoluwa Odeseye for taking part in the #EndSARS protests,” the statement partly read.
“Apart from repeatedly stating that Nigerian citizens are entitled to protest against the Government President Muhammadu Buhari said on January 1, 2021 that “2020 indeed came with a lot of challenges ranging from security and economic issues across the regions to understandable protests that were mainly led by our youths and served notice to the demand for police reforms and accountability.
“This government heard, this government listened and this government is committed to fulfilling the five demands of our youths, fully understanding that we all wish well for Nigeria.”
The senior lawyer also lamented that the thugs that attacked the #EndSARS protesters last year were treated as sacred cows.
While accusing the police authorities of releasing the criminals who the protesters handed over to security agencies, he said the thugs were yet to face persecution.
“While scores of those who engaged in murder, arson and looting of properties have since been arraigned in various courts the thugs who attacked the #EndSARS protesters have been treated like sacred cows.
“Indeed, some of the criminal elements who were arrested by the #EndSARS protesters in Abuja and handed to over to the Police have since been released without any prosecution.
“The protests were hijacked by other armed thugs who engaged in the destruction of properties and killing of security personnel,” he added.
Falana alleged that Nigeria’s security forces, instead of providing security for the protesters as required by section 94 of the Amended Electoral Act 2010 and section 83 (4) of the Nigeria Police Act 2020, colluded with sponsored thugs to unleash brutal attacks on the protesters.
According to him, many of the protesters were killed in Benin, Lagos, Ogbomoso, Port Harcourt and other cities as a result of the attacks.
However, the military and the police have consistently claimed innocence of such accusations.
This comes three months after many young Nigerians marched out in many states of the federation to embark on peaceful protests against incessant police brutality in October 2020.
SEE FULL STATEMENT HERE:
RENEW PASSPORTS OF #ENDSARS PROTESTERS
In October last year, Nigerian citizens, in many states of the Federation, embarked on peaceful protests against incessant police brutality. Instead of providing security for the protesters as required by section 94 of the Amended Electoral Act 2010 and section 83 (4) of the Nigeria Police Act 2020 the security forces colluded with sponsored thugs to unleash brutal attacks on the protesters. As a result of the attacks many of the protesters were killed in Benin, Lagos, Ogbomoso, Port Harcourt and other cities.
Thereafter, the protests were hijacked by other armed thugs who engaged in the destruction of properties and killing of security personnel. While scores of those who engaged in murder, arson and looting of properties have since been arraigned in various courts the thugs who attacked the #endsars protesters have been treated like sacred cows. Indeed, some of the criminal elements who were arrested by the #endsars protesters in Abuja and handed to over to the Police have since been released without any prosecution.
However, the revelations oozing out of the various judicial commissions of enquiry currently probing police brutality in many states of the Federation and the federal capital territory have justified the #endsars protests. But despite the promise made by the Presidency and Police Authorities to reform the Police the leaders of the protesters have had their bank accounts frozen and passport seized on the illegal orders of the Central Bank of Nigeria and Nigeria Immigration Service respectively. So far, the heads of both agencies have not been called to order by the President.
The Alliance on Surviving Covid 19 and Beyond (ASCAB) has confirmed that the Nigeria Immigration Service has willfully refused to renew the passports of Bolatito Rachael Oduala, Mary Oshifowora and Mosopeoluwa Odeseye for taking part in the #endsars protests. Apart from repeatedly stating that Nigerian citizens are entitled to protest against the Government President Muhammadu Buhari said on January 1, 2021 that “2020 indeed came with a lot of challenges ranging from security and economic issues across the regions to understandable protests that were mainly led by our youths and served notice to the demand for police reforms and accountability. This government heard, this government listened and this government is committed to fulfilling the five demands of our youths, fully understanding that we all wish well for Nigeria.”
In spite of the open declaration of President Buhari to meet the genuine demands of the #endsars protesters the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Nigeria Immigration Service have continued to embarrass the federal government. In Nasiru El-rufai v Minister of Interior (2011) the Federal High Court held that the decision of the Federal Government not to renew the passport of the Applicant was illegal and unconstitutional. In consequence, the Court awarded N1 million damages against the Respondents. Since the Court has held that the Ministry of Interior lacks the power to subject citizens to denial of consular services the passports of Bolatito Rachael Oduala, Mary Oshifowora and Mosopeoluwa Odeseye should be renewed without any further delay.
“The 100 defaulting passengers have been restricted for a period of six months, from January 1, 2021, to June 30, 2021.
“All the affected passengers have been notified and will be prevented from passport re-issuance and travelling outside the country during this period,” the statement said.
The service warned the affected passengers to comply with the restriction order to avoid breaching public health protocols and refusal of departure.
Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, had hinted that the details of the first 100 passengers who failed to take the test would be published in the national dailies.
Mustapha, who is the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), gave the hint at the PTF briefing held on Tuesday last week in Abuja.
He added that the passports of the affected people would also be suspended till June 2021, to serve as a deterrent for others.
This comes as the government imposes stricter measures to curb a further spread of the disease as Nigeria begins to see the second wave of COVID-19 cases.
Despite the disturbing single-day number of cases reported recently, the government believes a second nationwide lockdown is not yet the way to go.
As of Sunday night, Nigeria has a total of 90,080 confirmed cases of COVID-19, out of which 75,044 people have been discharged and 1,311 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
A total of 625 deported Nigerians returned to the country through the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA) in Abuja.
The Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Sunday James, disclosed this in a statement on Monday.
He added that 24 other Nigerians were repatriated for various criminal and immigration-related offences abroad.
Back in the country, 12 foreign nationals who failed to comply with Nigerian entry requirements were refused admission and returned, said James.
He noted that the year witnessed a global pandemic – COVID-19 – which prompted various countries to enforce mandatory lockdown and border closure before their eventual relaxation within the year.
The NIS spokesman stated that Nigeria had its fair share of the COVID-19 experience and the Service, as the lead agency in charge of migration control and border management at the airport in Abuja, stepped up personnel protection to insulate them from contracting the disease.
He listed some of the measures taken to include the installation of glass shields that separate the operatives from passengers, as well as the use of face masks, hand gloves, hand sanitisers, among others.
“No fewer than 239,114 outbound and inbound migrants passed through NAIA, Abuja between 1st January 2020 and 15th December 2020. So far, 73,582 Nigerians and 46,665 non-Nigerians departed NAIA, Abuja for various destinations abroad.
“Similarly, 81,277 Nigerians and 37,590 non-Nigerians arrived through NAIA airport within the period under review,” the statement said.
James revealed that in the course of the year, 34 Nigerians – predominantly young ladies – were refused departure for non-compliance and violation of immigration regulations and other extant laws.
He explained that the young ladies were victims of human trafficking being transported for the purpose of forced prostitution and sex exploitation and were between the ages of 18 to 28.
“Their final destination was Dubai, UAE. Upon interception, they were profiled and forwarded to NIS Service Headquarters for further investigation and released to the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) for rehabilitation.
“In the same vein, the change of operational strategy led to the uncovering of the persons recruiting and trafficking these ladies via sting operation where six recruiters/traffickers were apprehended – four males and two females. In addition, the identities of 3 recruiters/sponsors resident in Dubai were equally uncovered,” the statement said.
The NIS spokesman disclosed that NAIA Command, within the period under review, received and handed over 100 Nigerians whose offences were not immigration-related, such as drug-related issues, financial crimes, trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants, to relevant agencies.
The Federal Government has renewed its commitment to degrade the bandits, insurgents and other criminal elements along Nigeria’s borders.
The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola disclosed this on Monday at the passing out parade of 320 immigration officers who underwent training in Kano to participate in a special operation in the north-western part of the country.
Aregbesola said the increasing number of security personnel at the borders will not only check the proliferation of light weapons and contrabands but also cripple the activities of bandits, insurgents and kidnappers.
He added that the operation is a definitive military initiative to respond to criminal activities in northwestern Nigeria, with a view to restoring peace and security in the area.
While observing that much has been committed to training them, the Minister asked the immigration officials to justify the same by being professional in all their doing to protect the country from influx and infiltration by irregular migrants, calling for support for the Military in the region.
He noted that the nature of the border communities calls for the NIS-Border Community relationship to safeguard the borders.
Speaking further, Aregbesola asked the immigration personnel to gather intelligence from community members who will only share information available to them when they have confidence in the operatives.
In his remarks, the Comptroller General of the Nigerian Immigration Service, Muhammad Babandede, assured that the training will equip his men to perform excellently in securing the north-west.
The NIS warned the officers against compromise in the cause of their duty, reiterating that the service will not tolerate non-challant attitude and arbitrary abuse of their duty call.
The Nigerian Immigration Service said on Friday that it had blocked 58 medical doctors from leaving the country through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos via a chartered flight.
According to a statement signed by Immigration spokesman, Sunday James, the doctors had no visa for entry to the United Kingdom, while only two had a valid visa.
The statement stressed that the NIS had received no notification from the “Ministry of Health in Nigeria or any known Medical body” of the doctors’ itinerary.
The NIS added that it “will not allow individuals or groups of well-educated Nigerians who should know the procedures for travelling out of their country and the requirements” to flout relevant laws, especially amid a coronavirus pandemic.
“This is to avoid refusal of Entry and repatriation back to Nigeria amidst Covid-19 pandemic and spreading of same as well as flouting the Federal Government’s directive on restriction of international flights unless for essential reason as approved by government,” the statement said.
The chartered flight, the NIS said, has already left without the doctors.
Read the full NIS statement:
10th July 2020
NIS REFUSES DEPARTURE OF 58 NIGERIAN MEDICAL DOCTORS TO LONDON THROUGH MURTALA MUHAMMED INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, LAGOS BY A CHARTERED FLIGHT
1. The Nigeria Immigration Service, Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos has refused departure of fifty-eight (58) Nigerian Doctors who attempted traveling aboard a UK bound aircraft flight number ENT 550, registration number SP-ES that flew in from London. Fifty-Six (56) of the Doctors had no Visa for entry to United Kingdom, while only two (2) had visa.
2. The Fifty-eight (58) Medical Doctors were refused departure in line with Section 31 subsection 2a and b, on powers conferred on the Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service by the Immigration Act 2015, to prohibit departure of any person under the conditions stated in the Act. The chartered flight approved for landing in Nigeria was to carry forty-two (42) medical doctors for a training program but they were fifty-eight (58) with only two (2) having Visa for entry into UK, a situation that calls for refusal of departure.
3. The Nigeria Immigration Service as the agency saddled with control of entry and departure from Nigeria of persons will not allow individuals or groups of well-educated Nigerians who should know the procedures for travelling out of their country and the requirements, which include having a valid visa for entry into a destination country to leave. This is to avoid refusal of Entry and repatriation back to Nigeria amidst Covid-19 pandemic and spreading of same as well as flouting the Federal Government’s directive on restriction of international flights unless for essential reason as approved by government.
4. There is no official communication to the Service from the Ministry of Health in Nigeria or any known Medical body notifying the NIS of the travel of this number of Medical Doctors. The Aircraft has departed for London without the Medical Doctors.
5.The Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service, Muhammad Babandede, MFR, is taking this opportunity to advise Nigerians to always adhere to travel protocols and ensure they have Valid passports with Valid Visa to the country they intended travelling to before going to any Airport, Seaport or Land Border Control to avoid refusal to depart.
Signed DCI Sunday James pcc Service Public Relations Officer For: Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service
Authorities of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) have warned jobseekers to be mindful of fraudsters while seeking to be enlisted into the service.
The Service Public Relations Officer, James Sunday, gave the warning in a statement on Tuesday while reacting to reports that the NIS was recruiting.
“The attention of the Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service Muhammad Babandede MFR has been drawn to a fake NIS recruitment scam site and link posted on social media by fraudsters with the intention of defrauding innocent and unsuspecting Nigerians of monies.
“The Service had warned severally and is still warning good spirited Nigerians to avoid such fake recruitment offer which is not officially posted on the official NIS website,” he said.
According to Sunday, no fee is charged for NIS recruitment and jobseekers should avoid falling victims to criminal elements.
He stressed that the NIS would always publish and announce its official recruitment and notifications through credible dailies and media platforms.