By James Ibechi
…Going wherever the evidence leads
In a bid to solve the herdsmen crisis that has bedeviled the country, which they tried to do through the Ruga settlement programme that has been widely rejected by Nigerians, PMB has come up with the idea of granting illegal immigrants free citizenship.
Most of the immigrants are suspected to be Fulanis from Mali and other Sahel countries. Hehehehe!
In a widely circulated document that was ascribed to Nuhu Ribadu, a former presidential candidate, it was alleged that the current herdsmen crisis was a fallout of illegal immigrants imported by the Northern elites to cause mayhem if Jonathan had declared himself winner of the 2015 presidential election, which he did not.
When Buhari won the poll, the welfare of the hired fulani mercenaries was neglected and Mallam Nasir el Rufai, who was allegedly in charge of their welfare told them that their services were no longer required.
Hence they resorted to terrorism, kidnapping and others as a form of self help.
In the ensuing negotiations, they demanded for N150 billion, which the government provided N100 billion. Yet they do not want to leave.
Government planned Ruga to settle them but the uproar has been too much. Hence the new order to get them registered as citizens. With this, they have a right to live anywhere in Nigeria.
Ribadu has neither denied nor confirmed authorship of the said document.
Now Buhari has ordered their registration and six month amnesty as bonafide citizens of Nigeria.
This, according to an angry analyst, will swell the population of the North and swell their back up security “towards their islamisation agenda”.
Buhari had admitted in the height of the herdsmen killings in Benue that those that were terrorizing the North are from some West African countries, citing Senegal, Mali, Niger, Chad, and others as their countries of origin.
During the last elections, more were allegedly brought in. Opposition parties allege that some were used for the rerun election in Kano, where voters of opposition extraction were allegedly intimidated and prevented from voting.
The registration has been announced by the secretary to the government, Boss Mustapha, thus: “It is on this note, therefore, that I am declaring a six-month amnesty period for illegal migrants already in the country to submit themselves to the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) for the purpose of this registration.
The registration will be carried out without any payment or penalties. I’m enjoining all migrants staying in Nigeria whether regularly or otherwise, to take advantage of the amnesty window to register with the NIS,”
But the Immigration department insisted that there is a misunderstanding. “It is not illegal migrants; it is irregular migrants across the country we are registering. What we are doing now is to register every non-Nigerian. People are trying to misconstrue this directive by Mr. President. People should stop giving ethnic coloration to good plans by government. It is good for Nigeria. At least, it would help in our security situation, governance and planning,” the Service explained.
Many Nigerians, including Yinka Odumakin, an Afenifere chief scribe, condemned the act.
“The registration of migrants will not force the government to enforce the law against criminal herdsmen/terrorists, which the government is not doing at the moment. The exercise cannot make the government to stop acting as the media office of Miyetti Allah. There is no level of registration that will make Nigeria a safe place if the government is not run to protect all citizens as against special interests,” Odumakin said.