History of Nigeria Immigration Service

History of Nigeria Immigration Service. Nigeria Immigration Service is an agency under the umbrella of government endowed with the sole responsibility of monitoring the migration pattern of the country. That is, they monitor the input and output migration system into or out of the country. However, this government agency did not just come up like that but rather as its own historical development. { History of Nigeria Immigration Service }.

How did the Nigeria Immigration Service come into an existence?

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That’s what this topic seeks to sort out.

Brief History of Nigeria Immigration Service

Initially, the Nigeria Police Force abodes the immigration service as The Immigration Department. However, in August 1958, the service was plugged off from the Force and endowed with the responsibilities of monitoring the affairs of immigration under the leadership of Mr.E.H. Harrison as the Chief Federal Immigration Officer (CFIO). As at the time of emergence as a department, the service as a very narrow scope compares to now that they have a very wide scope in migration management.

Because of the smaller scope, only two sections were formed in the department. These sections include

  • The Visa and
  • Business sections

During this time, the department maintained a low key in carrying out their duties for the fulfillment of the aims and objectives of the government. Constitutionally wise, during this time, the department has not been fully recognized as an independent entity formally.

The department was formally recognized and marked as an independent entity exactly five (5) years after their extraction from the Nigeria Police Force. In August 1963, the organization of the department got a new look when the department was formally established by an Act of Parliament, Cap 171, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria. Because it was an extraction from the NPF, the former staffs were still retained but now called immigration officers. The CFIO was also changed to Director of Immigration (DOI). The Law also passed that the department will be a Civil Service Outfit under the supervision and control of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA). The structural reform of the department did not stop at this level but rather went on for further modification by giving the department a paramilitary status. In 1992, the name “Comptroller General of Immigration Service” was given to the head of the department to replace the former “Director of Immigration”. Hence, the last Director became the First Comptroller General of Immigration (CGI) in the person of Alhaji Garba Abbas. Since then, the service as noticed well-structured conformational changes, directly towards the proper management of the migration affairs. Also, the service has gone a long way in the implementation of new policies for the development of Nigeria Immigration affairs and performing the responsibilities of making alignments with regional and sub-regional political bodies. These included the introduction of Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) and African Affairs Division, Aliens Control and Border Patrol Management etc. Also, as part of accommodative to responsibilities, the service was also saddled with the responsibility of issuing all Nigerian travel document which included the Nigeria Passports in 1988.

History Of Nigeria Immigration Service Force

The Immigration service, over the years, has learned the importance of ICT as we are now dwelling in the computer age. In June 1998, The service uses the application of ICT to introduce The Machine Readable Passport (MRP), which is a machine-readable travel document having the bio data on the identity page encoded in optical character recognition format and The Combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Aliens Card (CERPAC), which must be acquired by a foreigner in order to live in Nigeria. Since 2001, when those cards were introduced, the service has taken a bold step towards the use of ICT in the process of its operations. Among these steps is the introduction of the e-facility that enables online payment. This not only eases the workload on the service but also open the eyes of other government agency towards the use of ICT. Example include the e-revenue collection. Also, it has also brought fame and respect to the service being the first pioneer of e-payments.

Still On The Brief History Of Nigeria Immigration Service

On May 2017, under the leadership of CGI CJ Udeh, the service deemed it fit to improve on the MRP and also in line with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards. The improvisation resulted in the introduction of the e-passport. The introduction of this innovative idea makes Nigeria be the First Country in Africa and among the first countries in the world to implement e-passport as a migration tool. The e-passport is far most better than the previous passport in the sense that it curbs multiple acquisition and theft as all the biometrics of the holder is incorporated into the card. In view of this, the body that regulates standards for travel document- ICAO- make it a necessity to admit Nigeria into its Board as the only African Representative in 2009. To reduce the stress and workload on the immigration officials, each state of the federation was provided with an e-passport machine.

Another way by which the service employed the knowledge of ICT is the introduction of the forensic laboratory that is endowed with the responsibility of thoroughly examining travel documents and passport in order to prevent multiple acquisitions. The personnel charged with the responsibilities of managing the laboratory are individuals with a high degree of forensic knowledge and also trained as they are exposed to various forms of training.

On May 25th, 2015, the National House of Assembly passed the Immigration Act into law in order to thicken the legal strength of the service. This lead to the addition of a new directorate known as Migration Directorate. Within this directorate, is the division of regular migration and division of irregular migration. Other seven directorates include Human Resources, Finance and Accounts, Planning, Research and Statistics, Work and Procurement, Investigation, inspectorate/Enforcement, Operations/Passport and Border Patrol, ECOWAS/African Affairs.

Starting from the earliest to the oldest, here is a full list of all the heads of the immigration service in Nigeria 

  1. Comptroller-General Immigration Service Muhammed Babandede,MFR from 2016 – date
  2. Comptroller-General Immigration Service Martin Kure Abeshi from 2015 – 2016
  3. Comptroller-General Immigration Service – CGIS David Shikfu Parradang,MNI from 2013 – 2015
  4. Acting Comptroller-General Immigration Service Rilwan Bala Musa,MNI 2013
  5. Comptroller-General Immigration Service Mrs. Rose Chinyere Uzoma from 2010 – 2013
  6. Comptroller-General Immigration Service Mr. Chukwurah Joseph Udeh from 2005 – 2010
  7. Comptroller-General Immigration Service Lady U. C. Nwizu from 2000 – 2004
  8. Acting Comptroller-General Immigration Service Alhaji U. K. Umar from 1999 – 2000
  9. Comptroller-General Immigration Service Alhaji Sahabi Abubakar from 1995 – 1999
  10. Last Director of Immigration, 1st Comptroller-General Immigration Service Alhaji Garba Abbas from 1990 – 1995
  11. Director of Immigration Muhammed Damulak, Esq from 1985 – 1990
  12. Director of Immigration Alhaji Lawal Sambo from 1979 -1985
  13. Director of Immigration Alhaji Aliyu Muhammed from 1977 – 1979
  14. Chief Federal Immigration Officer Alayedeino, Esq from 1967 – 1976
  15. Chief Federal Immigration Officer J. E. Onugogu, Esq from 1966 – 1967
  16. Chief Federal Immigration Officer E. H. Harrison, Esq from 1962 – 1966

That’s all about History of Nigeria Immigration Service.


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