The Nigerian Senate has summoned the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, over the new visa-on-arrival policy recently announced by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The lawmakers want Mr Aregbesola alongside the Comptroller General of Immigration, Muhammed Babandede, and other relevant officers, to appear before the Senate Committees on Interior, Judiciary and Legal Matters to “inform the Senate on the technical logistics, legal and constitutional issues that are available and are required for compliance before the said implementation of visa-on-arrival policy. ”
The summon was a sequel to a deliberation on a Point of Order by Ekiti senator, Olubunmi Adetunmbi, with reference to the visa-on-entry policy.
President Buhari recently announced that other Africans travelling to Nigeria will from January 2020 be able to get their visas at the point of entry.
He said this at the Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development in Africa, in Egypt.
“We in Nigeria have already taken the strategic decision to bring down barriers that have hindered the free movement of our people within the continent by introducing the issuance of visa at the point of entry into Nigeria to all persons holding passports of African countries with effect from January, 2020,” he said.
The visa-on-arrival policy is in furtherance of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement that was signed by Nigeria in July.
Leading the motion, Mr Adetunmbi noted that section 12 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as altered and the treaties making procedures Act 1993, requires that the National Assembly ought to enact legislation for the purpose of giving effect to all treaties after their ratification by the president or other members of the executive arm of government of Nigeria.
He complained that the Federal Executive Council has not yet submitted to the National Assembly a bill for domestication of the said African Continental Free Trade Agreement which is a necessary prerequisite before its implementation.
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Therefore it is premature constitutionally and legally impossible for the provisions of the said agreement to have any effect within the territory of Nigeria, he said.
“Cognizance that the national assembly has not delegated its powers of legislation to domestication of international treaties and agreements under section 12 of 1999 constitution to either the president of the federal republic or to the Nigeria Immigration Service or any other agency,” he said.
He also expressed worry that the national security of Nigeria in the context of the current insurgency could be jeopardized.
In his contribution, the Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, suggested that the policy be domesticated.
“…Nigerians were really worried. The reason for the worry was because of the spate of insecurity in Nigeria and having known that part of the insecurity came from elements coming from outside into Nigeria.
“To now have a visa policy that doesn’t seem to be properly regulated was giving a lot of people lots of jitters. It meant that anybody comes in cause mayhem in Nigeria.
“I know that Nigeria is the big brother of Africa but sometimes when you try to be big brother when you don’t have anything left, you may find yourself with nothing. We want to make sure that we take care of our citizens before we start taking care of Africa,” he said.
While the lawmakers unanimously voted to invite the interior minister, they however, rejected a resolution to invite the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, to forward to the Senate the details of the treaty.
The Nigerian government last year announced a visa on arrival policy for selected categories of people.
Over 2,000 of such visas were given to potential investors at Nigeria’s main airport in Lagos in July, an official had said.