A Civil Society group, under the aegis of Save Nigeria Movement has called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to exercise caution in the deployment of the Brown Card aimed at granting permanent residency and citizenship status to foreign national in the country.
According to the group, introducing a brown card as a bona fide document for granting permanent residency and citizenship would require a constitution amendment to review the eligibility conditions.
The group, in a statement issued and signed by the Convener, Reverend Solomon Semaka, in Abuja on Thursday also noted that the introduction of a Brown Card would amount to creating a conduit for fraudulent foreigners who are looking for escape routes from the existing systems that keep them in check.
According to the statement deploying a parallel programme that competes with existing ones would worsen the already fragile security situation and the safety of the nation against foreign nationals who come into the country with ulterior motives that undermine the country’s security system.
Semaka, was speaking against the backdrop of media reports that quoted the immediate past Minister of Interior as saying that the federal government has granted permission to the ministry of Interior to execute new pathways to citizenship and permanent residency for eligible foreign nationals through the issuance of brown cards to foreigners who desire to be Nigerian citizens.
“Introducing the brown card is tantamount to introducing a parallel platform for escapee defaulters in the payment for existing programmes.
“Our investigations have shown that unscrupulous agents have already started calling expatriates in their data base to pay as much USD 5,000 with the promise that they could grant them residency and citizenship application waivers in the guise of Brown Card, even when the process to its introduction is still a long way to go.
“This is the sign of things to come if you open multiple channels of granting permanent residency status to foreigners in Nigeria,” Semaka stated.
According to him, the focus should rather be to sustain and strengthen existing structures to tighten the security of the country, especially in this time of heightened global terrorism.
“Earlier this year, over 500 hundred foreign nationals were arrested with permanent voter cards.
Also, a British national paper reported that Chinese nationals in the mining sector are financing terrorists groups in some parts of Nigeria to gain access to the country’s mineral resources.
“All these are pointers to the fact that some unscrupulous foreign nationals could take advantage of multiple channels of naturalization which could render Nigeria’s already threatened security more porous,” Semaka said, adding also that the focus should be to strengthen available programmes and not introduce other products.
“Just a couple of months ago, the immediate past Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, commended all the service providers engaged by the Ministry of Interior and its services/Board for their dedications to using the public-private partnership (PPP) arrangements for improving service delivery, and revenue generation for the Federal Government of Nigeria, while also calling for sustenance and strengthening of existing services being provided through these partnerships. That is the way to go,” he added.
The group has also expressed concerns and curiosity at the reported approval granted for the brown card at the twilight of former President Muhammadu Buhari Administration.
The group explained that what the Brown Card is designed to do is already being handled by NIS, through their technical partners, suggesting that any loopholes observed should be channeled through the existing programmes instead of creating new contracts that could be a further hemorrhage for the country’s weakened security.