The comptroller-general of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Mr. Mohammed Babandede, has said that out of the 40, 000 refugees expected to migrate to Nigeria as a result of the crisis in Southern Cameroon, Cross River State is expected to shelter 30, 000 displaced persons.
Babandede who stated this in Calabar when he was on a two-day visit to the state to assess the situation said during a courtesy call on Governor Ben Ayade said 300 refugees had already been registered in the last few weeks.
He said that he was in Cross River State to ensure that adequate measures were put in place to properly register all the migrants that would be entering the country from the troubled Cameroonian region.
“You are aware of the crisis happening in the Nigeria-Cameroon border for which the UN Refugee Agency has projected 40, 000 refugees that will be coming to Nigeria and 30, 000 of them are likely to come in through Cross River State.
“Cameroon refugees should be well protected just as they did for us during the crisis period of Boko-Haram in the North- Eastern part of Nigeria. We are here to ensure safe security situation in the state during this period,” he said.
In his response, Ayade said Nigeria has a duty to protect its Cameroonian neighbours in the period of crisis.
“Going by the estimation you have given from the UN Refugee Agency, about 40, 000 refugees will be coming into Nigeria. We have a duty to cater for the needs of our Cameroonian brothers and I think the Immigration has a big responsibility here.
Ayade, however, charged the country to change its visa policy through the introduction of visa-free entry to Nigeria from all African countries.
Cross River shares boundary at different points with southern Cameroon. The Mfum border post in Etung local government area of the state was shut by the Cameroonian government on September 28 following the escalating political struggle in the country, where the English speaking people of Southern Cameroon are calling for a separate country as a result of marginalisation by the Francophone speaking north.