The Federal Government has introduced a new sanction regime against visitors who ‘overstay’ in the country without the necessary approval.
The sanction, which depends on the number of days a foreigner overstayed in the country, ranges from $200 (about N72, 000) to $4000 (about N.18 million), depending on the number of days the foreigner stayed in Nigeria.
In a statement signed by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, explained that a foreigner would be adjudged to have overstayed in Nigeria if he or she exceeded 56 days.
The document however explained that the sanction does not apply to citizens of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), who has the approval to come into the country and reside without entry visas.
The document further stated that a non-ECOWAS visitor, who intended to stay in Nigeria for a period exceeding 56 days, but not beyond 90 days aggregate would be sanctioned with a few of $200 or the naira equivalent. For a non-EWCOWAS visitor, who stayed in Nigeria beyond 90 days, but not exceeding 180 days aggregate would be sanctioned with the sum of $1000 or its naira equivalent.
The document also said that any non-ECOWAS visitor, who intended to stay in Nigeria or who stayed for a period exceeding 180 days, but not beyond 365 days aggregate in the country would pay to the Federal Government of Nigeria the sum of $2000 or its equivalent.
In the same vein, any non-ECOWAS visitor, who overstayed in the country without authorisation or regularisations of his papers, would, in addition pay penalty equivalent of $4000. Some of the foreigners especially from China, Malaysia and Indonesia had been sanctioned by the Federal government for violating the orders.
At the international airports nationwide, a source close to the ministry, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the government gave the services to a private firm, known as CONTEC Services. He added that this firm collects the charges on behalf of the Nigeria Immigration Services (NIS), adding that rather than such affected foreigner to pay the sum to NIS officers, the concessionaire, CONTEC, sanctioned such visitor with the sums, depending on the offence while a receipt or teller is issued to NIS for record purposes.
The ministry source, however, denied that immigration officers at any of the entry point in the country collects such fees from erring visitor, but stated that the government would continue to monitor activities of foreigners in the country especially in this era of global terrorism.
“The Federal Government had to introduce this new regime in order to checkmate foreigners who abuse visas granted them by the government. It was discovered that some of them intentionally overstay in Nigeria without regularising their papers. This, the government will not agree with and will do everything humanly possible to stop such abuse.
“However, in order to prevent corruption or leakages in the system, the government gave out the concession to a firm, CONTEC Service, who liaise with officials of Immigration at various points for the remittance of the sanction fee. What the concessionaire does is that it issues them a sanction ticket, which the visitor pays to a particular bank. So far, the regime is free of any corrupt practices and our men at various stations are cooperating with the officials,” The source said.