The Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Mohammed Babandede, has said that the federal government will revoke visas of foreign visitors who failed to present their Covid-19 test certificates on arrival in the country.
According to him, the Immigration Act empowers him to revoke visas and confiscate passports of offenders, adding that the next visa for global travel is the Covid-19 certificate.
He stated that based on the powers conferred on him and the additional conditions for entering the country, every visitor must have the Covid-19 test result.
He also ruled out the possibility of compromise by the officers of the service in the reissuance of passports to the 100 Nigerians who were banned for six months from travelling for flouting the mandatory seven-day post-arrival Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction test.
Babandede said their passports had been blocked and they would not be allowed to depart the country or be reissued passports in any of the 89 passport offices in Nigerian and abroad.
“The public health is a big issue in the country and based on that directives, we have complied by blocking 100 passports from travelling, which means, even if they go to the police and declare those passports missing, they cannot be reissued anywhere in the world and they cannot cross our national borders until the period of six months or communication received from the right authorities stating that they have complied.
“This will also include non-Nigerians; we have the powers to revoke visas, the comptroller-general has the power to revoke visas,” Babandede said.
The National Coordinator of PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu, also said if enforcement, which is the responsibility of the state governments and recourse to risk communication and community engagement fail in curbing the rising Covid-19 statistics, the federal government will not rule out all options, including another lockdown if the virus continues to spread.
A report Tuesday by Reuters said Nigeria is hoping to get 42 million Covid-19 vaccines to cover 20 per cent of its population through the global COVAX scheme.
The agency quoted the Executive Director/CEO of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, as saying on Tuesday that the batch of vaccines would come as part of Nigeria’s plan to inoculate 40 per cent of the population this year, with another 30 per cent in 2022.
By the end of January, 100,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are expected to arrive, he said.
The COVAX scheme was set up to provide vaccines to poorer countries such as Nigeria, whose 200 million people and poor infrastructure pose a daunting challenge to medical officials rolling out the vaccinations as the West African country battles a second, larger spike in Covid-19 cases.
Nigeria will first inoculate frontline health workers, first responders, national leaders, people vulnerable to Covid-19 and the elderly, Shuaib said at the PTF press conference in Abuja.
He also underscored popular resistance to vaccines and said Nigeria must educate people on their importance.