Immigration CG exposes expatriate quota fraud

The Controller General of Immigration (CGI), Caroline Wura-Ola Adepoju, has warned that if the practice of bringing in and employing foreign prisoners in foreign-owned companies operating in Nigeria was permitted in the past, it would no longer happen under her watch.

The Immigration boss handed down the warning at a press conference at the Immigration’s headquarters in Abuja yesterday.

Daily Sun reports that the new NIS boss declared that if there was failure in that aspect in the past, there was a new sheriff in town, who would no longer tolerate it.

Last Wednesday, according to the report, Senators had alleged that prisoners from some foreign countries were working in construction companies owned by expatriates in Nigeria.Ezoic

The Senators who are members of the Interior Committee made the allegations during the budget defence of the Ministry of Interior in Abuja.  Chairman of the Committee, Adams Oshiomhole, who spoke on behalf of other lawmakers, frowned at the practice and insisted that the practice must stop.

He said: “Your Ministry needs to regulate issuance of the quotas very well as I have on good authority that prisoners from foreign land are working in Nigeria as construction workers.

“This is even different from the age long fraud the oil companies have been carrying out in the country through the policy of expatriate quotas by making our own qualified engineers to work under foreign technicians.Ezoic

“Many non-Nigerians are in the country, some of them live inside containers. I even believe and dare to say it that there are foreign prisoners who are working in Nigeria. They were shipped to our country to serve their prison terms.

“They were being paid according to their country’s minimum wage by the construction industry that brought them. I don’t want to mention the company’s name but if I am provoked, I will mention them. Honourable Minister, this is a serious issue, prisoners are not expected to work in their countries if the product or whatever they engage in is meant to be exported.”

On engaging foreigners serving prison terms, the CGI said: “Saying that Chinese prisoners are brought in and employed in their companies in Nigeria is very subjective. It is contrary to the international convention to name a particular race. However, before anybody comes into the country, they are subjected to thorough checks before issuing visa applications.

“Any foreigner intending to come into Nigeria must get to our embassies to apply for a visa, we will subject them to thorough screening before granting them a visa. If there was failure in that aspect in the past, there is a new Sheriff in town. Under my administration, we will ensure that such will not happen.Ezoic

“We need to tighten the screws and continue to do our best to ensure that proper investigations are carried out on intending migrants to Nigeria. I will take it as a challenge and by God’s grace, we will begin to sing a new song,” she assured.

Speaking further on the week-long event, she said: “Smuggling of migrants is a serious transnational crime that poses significant challenges to governments around the world.

“Nigeria as a country of origin, transit and destination, for migrants is particularly affected by the activities of migrant smugglers. This illicit trade not only exploits vulnerable individuals and puts their lives at risk, it also undermines the integrity of our borders and national security,” she said.

Meanwhile, the CG has revealed that no fewer than 522 victims of trafficked persons have been handed over to the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP).Ezoic

The CGI, who also flagged off the campaign to discourage irregular migration in the country, disclosed that 12 persons involved in the trafficking syndicate were currently undergoing prosecution.

While emphasising that migration is not a crime, she noted that in 2022 alone, remittances stood at $22 billion.

Asked to give the statistics of victims of trafficking, she said: “As for the number of arrested suspected migrant smugglers, we have 12 of them currently undergoing trials. Then, the number of migrants smuggled out of the country, repatriated and reunited with their families through the help of the Nigeria Immigration are 208. The number of migrants smuggling cases under investigation and recommended for prosecution are 12.

We are prosecuting all the people arrested for smuggling other people. The number of suspected traffickers, victims of trafficking in persons handed over to NAPTIP are 522,” she said.Ezoic

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