The Senate has rejected the visa-on-arrival policy of President Muhammadu Buhari, saying it is premature, considering the spate of insecurity in the country.
The Senate also summoned the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola along with the Comptroller-General of Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) to appear before its committee on Interior, Judiciary and Legal Matters to explain the legality, logistics and constitutional issues available and required for compliance before the implementation of the visa-on-arrival policy.
President Buhari had recently announced the commencement of visas-on-arrival policy for all African travellers by January.
The rejection by the upper legislative chamber was based on a resolution adopted sequel to a motion sponsored by Sen. Adewunmi Adetunbi (APC, Ekiti North) at plenary on Tuesday.
Adetunbi said that neither the Federal Executive Council (FEC) nor a member of the National Assembly had yet submitted a bill for domestication of the said African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), which is a necessary prerequisite before its implementation.
“Therefore, it is premature constitutionally and legally impossible for the provisions of the said agreement to have any effect within the territory of Nigeria,” he argued.
Supporting the motion, Senate Minority Leader Eyinnaya Abaribe said that a lot of Nigerians were worried about the policy because of the spate of insecurity in the country.
“And for us, haven known that part of the insecurity came from elements coming outside and into Nigeria to now have a visa policy that doesn’t seem to be properly regulated was giving a lot of people a lot jitters because, what it meant was that anybody could just come in and actually cause mayhem in Nigeria not knowing the result,” he said.
Abba Moro (PDP, Benue South) said that when international agreements were entered into by Nigeria, they should be properly domesticated to give it legality and legitimacy.
“The visa aspect of this agreement needs to be looked into very closely and critically. I support the need for domestication. There are two clear things; there is visa-on-arrival and there is free visa. What Mr President said recently that I know is free visa for Africans to enter Nigeria,” he argued.
Senators Gabriel Suswam (PDP, Benue North East) and Ibikunle Amosun all agreed that the policy will enhance economic growth, but insisted that before the treaty would be perfected, the President should contact the National Assembly for proper legislation by way of sending to the Senators the Immigration Act for amendment and domestication.
However, Senator Barau Jibrin opposed the view to the submissions of the Senators who rejected the policy. He said the policy announced by Buhari is a global trend, and should not in anyway be faulted.
The Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, said that the Attorney General of the federation should be able to forward it to the National Assembly to file them appropriately and give them the required legal backing.
Ahmad Lawan thereafter, threw the matter to vote and majority of Senators voted against the policy.
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