Nigerian travellers are now disguising as citizens of other countries in West Africa, especially Ghana, and obtaining their passports which they use to travel to Asia and other parts of the world.
THISDAY learnt that it is mainly Nigerians who travel to China that take the passports of other countries in the region and the reason is because China gives about four weeks visa to Nigerians and do not extend it when it expires, but the country gives up to six months visa to Ghanaians, Senegalese, Guineans and others in the region.
When Nigerian businessmen go to China to buy, manufacture or process goods, four weeks are not always enough and if they leave the country at the expiration of their visa and instruct their agents to arrange and ship their consignments, they usually short-change them and as their goods purchased by the Nigerian is arriving the country, their dubious partners in China would export the same goods to the country and sell it at cheaper price, thus damaging the market for the Nigerian importer.
So for the Nigerians to stay till they are able to get their goods, they need visa that allows them longer time, hence they go for Ghanaian and other countries’ visas.
A top Nigeria Immigration Service official explained to THISDAY that Nigeria is reciprocating the Chinese gesture because visa policy is usually based on reciprocity.
“We give them 14 days visa but we don’t have the enabling machinery to flush them out whenever their visa expires so many Chinese overstay their visa in Nigeria. Some of them even take transit visa and disappear as soon as they arrive in Nigeria.”
The official also said Immigration is supposed to have the machinery to smoke out the Chinese citizens that have overstayed their visa, but decried the attitude of Nigerian government officials who move to protect them in the name of encouraging investors, in spite of the law that says that they should be deported.
“Government officials do not want the law to operate so they intervene in the job of Immigration officials, but the Nigeria Immigration Service used to have investigation and inspection department whose duty is to check those who have over stayed their visa and also patrol the boundaries to stop illegal immigration into the country. But when these Chinese overstay and you want to do your job, these government officials will intervene and may even sack you.”
The Immigration official said the body needs logistics to be able to effectively carry out its responsibility, including patrol vehicles at the borders, communication equipment and others.
“In the 1980s Nigeria Immigration Service was patrolling the nation’s borders and preventing people of other countries from gaining entry. Today, the Boko Haram menace would have been checked if Immigration is adequately equipped. Now, these Chinese are having easy run in Nigeria because government is protecting them and those menial jobs that should be done by Nigerians are being taken over by the Chinese who are now flooding into the country.”