A civil society group, the Save Nigeria Movement, has called on the federal government to exercise caution in the deployment of the Brown Card, aimed at granting permanent residency and citizenship status to foreign nationals 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 constitutional amendment to review the eligibility conditions.
The group, in a statement issued Friday in Abuja by its convener, The Reverend Solomon Semaka, 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 country against foreign nationals who come into the country with ulterior motives that undermine the country’s security system.
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Semaka spoke 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 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 database 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.
The group explained that what the Brown Card was designed to do is already being handled by Nigerian Immigration Service, through their technical partners, suggesting that any loophole 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.