Muhammad Babandede, comptroller-general of the Nigeria Immigration Service ( NIS), says the government will reciprocate travel bans and restrictions on Nigeria by any country.
Babandede was reacting to the inclusion of Nigeria by the US to its list of countries with visa restrictions.
In February, President Muhammadu Buhari unveiled a new visa policy for the country which provides for three categories of visas: short visit, temporary, and permanent residence and 79 visa types.
Babandede told TheSignature50 magazine that the new visa policy is reciprocal in nature, adding that like the US, Nigeria has the right to dictate who it allows in or restricts entry from.
“I can tell you that US is a country, it is a nation like Nigeria. They have the right to restrict who will enter their territory or not just like we can restrict US citizen or whomsoever from entering Nigeria,” Babandede said.
“So they have the right, but I want people to know that Visa restriction is not a Visa ban, it is a ban for people who want to take residency not people who want to go for short visits.
“You are aware that President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR just launched a new visa policy for Nigeria, the visa policy has 79 classes of visa. So, we will be in a position to say to countries, if you allow us for short visits we will allow you for short visits and if you stop us from other visits, we do the same, because the new visa policy is based on reciprocity.
“So, we will test this for a year and see those who reciprocate and we take actions for those who do otherwise.”
Speaking on his management of the agency, Babandede said he has been able to execute projects with transparency.
He said when he assumed office, he made it a duty to inaugurate two new command buildings so that the agency could act independently without any interference.
“When I came on board, I was really ashamed to find Immigration office, especially commands been kept in federal secretariat, we are law enforcement agency, we ought not to be in a Federal Secretariat. So i made a commitment to myself that every year, I want to commission two new buildings – commands,” he said.
“And we have developed a model for each command. I am glad to say that 2017, we did two – Kano and Jigawa, 2018 we did two – Plateau and Abia, and 2019 we did three – we commissioned Adamawa, Zamfara and Uyo.
“This year 2020, God’s willing we will commission around five or eight, depending on the availability of fund.”