By Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA – The Nigeria Immigration Service NIS has threatened to charge and deport foreigners who may want to disguise as tourists to illegally observe next month’s general elections.
Controller General of Immigration, Muhammad Babandede who disclosed this during his first quarterly forum on the Service’s preparation for the elections with Command Comptrollers and Zonal Coordinators Thursday in Abuja, added that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is already taking care of the accreditation of foreign election observers said, only genuine observers would be allowed access to election venue.
Babandede said, “if you are a monitor (sic) participating in election you should declare it right from the beginning. We don’t want people to do counter sign operation in the name of election. We don’t want anybody who will come and create tension and crises in our community so any none Nigerian coming in, we must know the purpose of coming “.
Babandede said prior to the general elections, entry points into the country would be closed, especially land borders, as a strategy to halt foreign participation.
“If you get a visa to come to Nigeria to do business, to do tourism, or to participate in something else other than monitoring election and we find you monitoring election, we will charge you and deport you because that is not what you asked for.”
According to him, “It is not allowed in our country. If you come into the country for a purpose you must remain for that purpose. If you are coming to work, work. If you are coming as a tourist, then don’t use the opportunity to participate in election in any way.”
The Comptroller General who also promised judicious utilisation of the N2.6 billion allocated to the service for election monitoring and participation, challenged Nigerians to hold them accountable if they feel otherwise.
He said, ” as for the N2.6bn allocated for Immigration, I promise that every officer will be paid his or her allowance. We will fuel our vehicles, we will patrol, provide identity for election so that any officer who decides to participate in election and doesn’t have the identity, he or she will be in trouble. We will provide food for officers so that they don’t have to leave their duty posts and all these things will be made available”.