A bill which seeks to repeal the Immigration Act of 1963 was read for the Second time in the Senate on Tuesday.
Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, who read the lead debate explained that the bill was seeking the concurrence of the Senate since it had already been passed by the House of Representatives.
Ndoma-Egba says the Bill seeks among others, provisions to regulate immigration, passport, visas, resident permits and work permit.
He added that it was also aimed at prohibiting smuggling of migrants in and out of the country and to protect and provide remedies to objects of smuggling of migrants offences in the country.
Ndoma-Egba said, “At the moment, migration in Nigeria is regulated by the Immigration Act of 1963 which established the Nigeria Immigration Service.
“It is however observed that despite the changes in the functions and activities of the Immigration Service over the years, including the change in nomenclature to the status of a full fledged para-military service in 1992.”
He noted that the highest penalty prescribed was N200 or six months imprisonment under the current Act, which will certainly not constitute any deterrent to offenders and potential offende rs.
The Bill contains provisions for collaboration between Public and Private Sector interest groups and stakeholders on a Public-Private Partnership Platform to attract funds for the provision and development of infrastructure and acquisition of necessary equipment.
The arrangement, he added, would enable the Nigeria Immigration Service to deploy appropriate professional skills and modern migration management facilities.
He said, “With this provision, the perennial challenge of paucity of funds which has hampered most NIS activities and operations over the years, particularly the task of effectively patrolling Nigeria’s expansive borders would be addressed.”
Ndoma-Egba noted that the agency was currently battling with problems of gross inadequacy of patrol vehicles, communication equipment and other logistics.
He said, “No doubt, the bill has several advantages. First, it will address the shortcomings in the existing law and streamline as well as harmonize most legislations relating to immigration and migrant activities in the country.
“Secondly, the bill if passed into law will discourage and reduce drastically the incidence of smuggling in persons and activities of organized criminal groups engaged in the nefarious trade and its attendant consequences on brain drain.
“It is common knowledge that many young, vibrant and skilled Africans, including Nigerians have died or ended up badly undertaking perilous journeys crossing the Sahara desert, Atlantic Ocean or Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe.” Punch