Abuja – The Minister of Internal Affairs, Mr Abba Moro, has said that the Federal Government would retaliate the deportation of 125 Nigerians by the South African authorities if the deportation was done in bad faith.
The minister made the announcement while speaking with State House correspondents after a closed door meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday in Abuja.
125 Nigerians were on March 3, deported from South Africa for allegedly being in possession of fake yellow fever vaccination cards.
The travelers, who arrived in South Africa on March 1, were deported in two flights, 75 of them aboard South African Airways and 50 in Arik Air.
Moro said that government was trying to find out the details of the deportation before appropriate action would be taken.
“At the moment, the information that is available to government is that some Nigerians travelled to South Africa without appropriate travel documents, especially the yellow fever card.
“We are trying to find out the details of the situation.
“I want to assure you on one thing: that Federal Government has the capacity to reciprocate appropriately if it finds out that it is not done in good faith.
“I can assure you that we will react appropriately if it is found that South Africa has taken unfriendly action against Nigeria,’’ the minister said.
The Federal Government through the Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Olugbenga Ashiru, had decried the deportation.
Ashiru had also directed the Nigerian High Commissioner in South Africa to lodge a formal protest over the action of South African immigration officials.
The minister also disclosed that government had signed several joint agreements with neighbouring countries to step up security at the nation’s borders.
He said that the action was taken against the backdrop of terrorist activities in the country and the fact that people were coming from outside the country to perpetrate the acts.
“Last week, we signed with Cameroon, we have such arrangement with Niger and Chad.
“If you don’t have any legitimate business doing in Nigeria the immigration service within the level of their own capacity will not allow you to enter Nigeria,’’ he said.
The minister also denied allegations of not following the ECOWAS protocols in the recent deportation of Chadians and Nigeriens.
He said that the Nigeria Immigration Service had not, at any time, meted unfair treatment to ECOWAS citizens in the country.
“The fact is that we keep insisting that ECOWAS protocol which provides for free movement does not provide for free lunch in the sense that you can just wake up from your bed and say you want to go to any African country.
“You must also come with appropriate documents; there is ECOWAS travel document that the member nations issue out to their citizens.
“If you come to Nigeria without the travel documents, then certainly you have not followed the ECOWAS protocol, then you are illegal alien,’’ he said. (NAN)