Diplomats, stakeholders and Chief Executives of Immigration of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have thrown their weight behind the setting up of a training school to be located in Nigeria, and also the adoption of Nigeria’s Combined Expatriate Resident Permit Aliens Card (CERPAC) within the West African sub-region.
The Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Mr. Muhammad Babandede, who addressed stakeholders at a recently concluded all-encompassing stakeholders’ meeting in Abuja, noted that the meeting was aimed at reviewing inherent irregularities while improving its data sharing strategies within the 16 member nations.
Before the signing of the official version of the report and its recommendation by the ECOWAS Heads of Immigration at the inspection of its CERPAC facilities, Babandede harped on the need for immigration agencies across the sub-region to work closely towards delivering smooth intelligence gathering.
The ECOWAS Immigration heads however called for the setting up of a committee to implement a strategy on the ECO visa within timely framework convergence, stressing that all major airports in the region should be linked simultaneously with the database of the International Police Organisation (INTERPOL) and fool-proof biometrics as driven by CERPAC.
Addressing the media executives on the upgrade of the 36 resident permit centres for expatriates and aliens coming into Nigeria, the Chairman of CONTEC Global Group, Dr. Benoy Berry, said the recent unveiling of the centres to 36 was done with the view to seamlessly monitor and keep track of expatriates and foreigners contributing to the development of the country.
He said, “The adoption and introduction of the CERPAC technology across the sub-region will help check illegal immigrants, terrorism and compliance to immigration control measures.”
According to Berry, government’s effort at introducing visa on arrival for all foreign nationals would further boost its robust framework for the ease of doing business, stressing that the synergies would eradicate the hitherto bureaucratic bottlenecks hindering the influx of foreign investors into the country. He commended the NIS for the robust application of the CERPAC technology which has been institutionalised at Nigeria’s airports.
In a remark, ECOWAS Head of Division, Free Movement and Migration, Mr. Tony Luka Elumelu, noted that growth and development within the region is premised on the implementation of ECOWAS free movement, protocol effectiveness, border management, data management and sharing, regional coordination, as well as monitoring and reporting among others.
According to him, the importance of the exchange of specimens of travel documents amongst members states to aid clearance and check fraudulent use of travel documents, maintaining that all travellers (including minors) should be issued travel documents by immigration authorities while ECOWAS should adopt a common approach for the protection of children to monitor and combat abuse and human trafficking.