On Wednesday (13 July), the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright was joined by Nigeria’s Minister of Interior Abdulrahman Danbazau to commission a newly constructed immigration Returns Reception Centre at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos built by the UK government for the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS).
The facility, constructed as part of the UK government’s flagship partnership with the NIS, is within the cargo terminal of the airport and will be used to process immigration returns on arrival. It will also serve as a bespoke training facility for the Nigeria Immigration Service.
In his speech during the commissioning, the British High Commissioner expressed delight in witnessing the special occasion of the first use of the Returns Reception Centre and restated UK commitment to the long standing co-operation with Nigeria on different areas, including migration.
Mr Arkwright said:
“Nigeria is a valued partner to the UK and we have made real progress on issues that are important to both our countries. Our migration relationship brings many benefits to the UK as well as Nigeria. The UK committed, formally, to building this facility at the start of 2015 as our gift to the Nigeria Immigration Service, at a substantial cost. This centre is designed to help improve the returns process for you on the ground, but more importantly, allow a dignified return of Nigerians repatriated from the UK, which is important to both our countries.”
Nigeria’s Minister of Interior on his part said the President Buhari administration is committed to the protection of the rights of Nigerians wherever they are and promised improved service delivery to Nigerians in the diaspora. He thanked the UK government for constructing and donating the centre stressing that the facility will be a symbol of the UK and Nigeria’s commitment to migrants’ right to dignified returns.
Currently, approximately 50 Nigerians are removed on a six-week basis from the UK, with flights arriving into the cargo terminal of Murtala Mohammed International Airport. Until now, the terminal did not have any arrivals facility for returnees. They were processed by immigration officials on the aircraft, which presented a number of challenges.
The fully furnished centre will provide a safe, secure and weatherproof environment for processing of returns, away from the public eye and will serve as a designated space for Nigerian immigration officials to carry out entry clearance processes more efficiently, reducing the waiting time, the risk of the charter being grounded due to delays and cost of such delays.
Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Muhammad Babandede expressed delight with the project and extended his appreciation to the UK government.