By Bassey Udo
The Federal Government will soon begin the enforcement of available immigration laws that allow only foreigners with the requisite residency and work permits to live and work in the country.
The Minster of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, disclosed this in Lagos on Thursday in a special event, “BRF GABFEST” organised in his honour.
The Minister said the government is currently undertaking the audit of foreigners working at various work sites and businesses across the country to determine the population of foreigners working in the without a valid work permit.
“Every foreigner who has the work permit to come to Nigeria legally is welcome. But, if you don’t have the relevant papers, we will take you out,” Mr Fashola said.
“It the right of every country to exercise by determining who comes or stays to work in its country. But, we (Nigeria) have not been exercising such rights all these years. We are going to begin to enforce it now.”
He cited the example of the recent deportation of about 723 Nigerians by the Ghanaian government allegedly for “illegal stay, cybercrime, and prostitution between January 2018 and January 2019”.
Among those deported are 81 Nigerians accused of involvement in cybercrime and illegal stay in January.
About 115 of the affected Nigerians have so far been deported based on allegations of overstaying their permit and engaging in prostitution.
Mr Fashola said at every worksite or business location during the audit exercise, officials would identify all workers, particularly from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), who live and work in Nigeria without the legal permits.
The Nigerian High Commissioner to Ghana, Michael Abikoye, has since submitted an official protest of the Nigerian government over what he described as “inhuman treatment of Nigerians by the Ghana Immigration Service”.
Nigeria, Africa’s most densely populated country, with almost 200 million people is also home to many Africans, particularly those in the ECOWAS region, including Ghana.
Nigeria, with a gross domestic product (GDP) of about $400 billion, accounts for almost 60 per cent of the over $720 billion (GDP) of the region, controlling over 56 per cent of trade in the region.
The country contributes more money to the ECOWAS than 13 other members states of the regional body put together in the last 12 years.
As a regional leader, Nigeria is in the vanguard of those promoting regional economic integration, with various strategic initiatives to connect the member countries of ECOWAS.