Group opposes proposed brown card for foreigners seeking citizenship
A civil society organisation, Save Nigeria Movement, has called on the Federal Government to exercise caution in the deployment of the Brown Card aimed at granting citizenship status to foreign nationals in the country.
The Ministry of Interior had in a statement on May 27 by its Director, Press and Public Relations Unit, Afonja Ajibola, announced that “The Federal government has granted permission to Ministry of Interior to issue out brown card to foreigners craving to be Nigerian citizens.”
Ajibola, in the statement, said the diclosure was made by the immediate-past Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, while speaking in Abuja, while confering 385 foreign nationals with Nigerian citizenship.
The statement quoted Aregbesola to have said that then President Muhammadu Buhari gave the approval for the issuance of “Brown Card as permanent permit to willing foreigners to be Nigerian citizens, especially foreign husbands who were impeded by certain clauses in the Constitution.”
Aregbesola noted that “while foreign wives of Nigerian men can automatically becomes citizens through registration, this same privilege is not available to foreign husbands of Nigeria women.”
He expressed concern that “this discrimination has robbed the country of the gains it could have got from this category of foreigners, if there is a pathway for them through registration as obtaines from their opposite sex.”
But in a statement on Thursday by its Convener, Solomon Semaka, Save Nigeria Movement, called for caution, warning that the introduction of 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.
The statement partly read,“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 as $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 a sign of things to come if you open multiple channels of granting permanent residency status to foreigners in Nigeria.
“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 terrorist groups in some parts of Nigeria to gain access to the country’s mineral resources.’’