Alien Or Foreign Wives Versus Obeying The Laws Of Nigeria
By: Paul I. Adujie
New York, USA
May 14, 2003
Many in Nigeria have written to comment on the �plight or predicament� of Alien or Foreign women that are married to Nigerian men, the latest and most Maddening of all, was written by one Mr. E. Johnson that was published in the Guardian, Mr. Johnson in trying to convince the world of why his wife should not have to obey Nigerian laws and why foreign wives deserve special treatments in Nigeria.
All aliens living in Nigeria, men and women, do so at the pleasure of the government and people of Nigeria and they are welcome to participate in all the activities of persons in Nigeria, whether citizens or resident aliens, but this must be done with complete obedience to all Nigerian laws, they cannot pick and choose or select what local, state or federal laws of Nigeria to obey or comply with and it is the height of betrayal and unpatriotic behaviour on the part of any Nigerian who encourage any immigrant in Nigeria to disrespect our rules and laws.
Many Nigerians now live abroad, in every corner of the earth literally. I live in New York, United States and Nigerians or every other immigrants here obey and comply with all municipal, state and federal laws of the United States and no American will in a million years suggest to that immigrants violate the laws here, instead, they actually help the different levels of government to enforce laws regarding immigrants!
In America, acquiring a resident or work permit is always an arduous task for majority of immigrants in the USA, it is like pulling all the hairs of your nostrils all at once, it is excruciatingly slow and painful, it is like seeking a needle in a hay stack, it like crossing the and frequently, recent immigrant medical doctors, nuclear physicists become taxi drivers or security guards until they obtain work and resident permit and they have no control as to how soon it occurs, they have no control as to fees! It is the ultimate crossing of the Rubicon for all immigrants in America!
Most immigrants in America have no say or choice as to when they may obtain a resident or work permit , or how much such immigrant is required to pay for work permit or resident permit. And the amount paid by an immigrant can vary from a couple of hundred dollars to thousands of dollars! There was an American Movie made some years past, �Green Card� which is the euphemism for resident permits in America, the movie depicted the hurdles, impediments and myriad of obstacle to obtaining resident and work permits in America and what some �creative� immigrants resort to doing in order to go around the rules!
The so-called "Nigerwives" should tell the world how long their have lived in Nigeria and whether they have any interests in becoming Nigerian citizens, like some eighty seven aliens did recently, if on the other hand, these foreign wives suffer from sort of ambivalence of �to be or not to Nigeria� we all have a right to know
Nigerians and other Africans living in Europe and America go to great lengths to obtain or procure work and resident permits and eventually becoming citizens of these countries, when and if they so desire and where it is possible, there are countries that do not even offer the citizenship option to any immigrants, especially African immigrants!
There are countless countries in Europe with Africans who have been lawful residents for many years and yet they are not allowed to become citizens of their adopted countries
Only the United States is a little liberal in determining who and how the acquisition of citizenship, and the processes leading to it is set for immigrants, and even the US impose very rigorous rules on immigrants who seek resident or work permit, and you will have to have had these permits for a minimum of five years in most cases , before qualify to study for a qualifying civic test to becoming and American citizen upon a formal swearing ceremony, all these processes have even become more complex and complicated since September 11, 2001 perpetrated by certain immigrants.
It is therefore preposterous for anyone, particularly, Nigerian to appear to be encouraging the violation of any Nigerian laws, rules and regulations.
Aliens are welcome to the bountiful hospitality of the people and government of Nigeria and any other country for that matter, so long as such aliens are decent, law abiding and they are actively engaged in activities in the various communities where they live
Mr. Johnson in his letter to a newspaper, chastised the federal government for daring to charge his wife and other aliens fees at all! Should Mr. Johnson and other Nigerian men who are married to women from outside the shores of Nigeria be the ones to determine what amount they are charge for the service that Nigeria Immigration Service will provide to them?
In America and everywhere outside Nigeria, local citizens do not encourage immigrants to disobey of flout and disrespect local laws as some Nigerians are encouraging these so-called Niger wives to do.
Mr. Johnson painted a picture miser federal government of Nigeria trying to get rich from the �unfair and unnecessary fees� that the aliens wives are required to pay for their permit or service provided by the Nigerian government agency or department.
It is very important Nigerians and their foreign wives commenting on issues like this one, first and foremost, endeavours to ascertain what obtains in other countries regarding immigration and naturalization; my reading of the plethora of commentaries that have appeared on this Niger wives issue, clearly indicate that most commentator have been quite ignorant or do not have a scintilla of idea, as to how immigration rules are applied elsewhere and particularly to Nigerians abroad.
Nigerwives may not be labelled expatriates but they are resident aliens and they must pay fees for their resident permits to the federal government of Nigeria, just like Nigerians in the US do! Lawyers and other manner of Consultants grow rich on immigrants in America, because of the rigors that the US Immigration and Naturalization Service put immigrants through, immigrant pay these lawyers and consultants, before the have a chance to also again, pay the US government when permits are issued or renewed!
Here are web sites regarding schedule of fees for resident aliens or immigrants in America:
(A) FirstGov - Official US Government Site (B) US Immigration Advice
(C) US Forms on Send a Cow Chip.com etc.
Yes, the Nigerian Constitution in Section 28, Subsection 1 and 2 allows dual citizenship and it is surely not Nigeria's fault that these other countries for their reason and purpose, do not offer dual citizenship to their people! It is good thing to have women and other immigrants from diverse countries with their own laws, but our laws should not be impeded for the convenience of other countries, Nigerians endured the disadvantages when Nigeria lacked dual citizenship, Nigerians lobbied to have the constitution changed, we did not instead ask foreign countries to make their laws subject to Nigeria's lack of dual citizenship as it were then.
Therefore, if some of the countries where these Nigerwives come from do not consent to dual citizenship, it must be said, that Nigeria did not create that situation! In some countries e.g. Germany, Japan, and Belgium,once a person takes citizenship other than one's own, he/she must forfeit that of his/her country of birth, this used to be the case with Nigeria!
If some countries, including countries where Nigerwives originated put certain restriction on Nigerians or holder of Nigerian passport, it is time that they change their attitude There are immigrants in Nigeria who regularly apply for Nigerian citizenship and are granted, some 87 immigrants were not so long ago granted Nigerian citizenship, somebody should inform Mr. Kanayo Chukwumezie! Taking Nigerian citizenship and giving up his/her own is not like imprisoning oneself.
Here in America, there has been Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 and another reform in 1996 and these removed many rights hitherto granted to Immigrants in America, these Reforms also created disparity in punishments and sentencing rules for Immigrants compared with American citizens! And unlike the Nigerian husbands of Nigerwives, Americans do not encourage Immigrants to disobey American Laws! Wives or husbands! And they do not consider Federal Immigration Rules, that are quite rigorous in America, as �husbands are thus being insulted because by marrying they exercised one of their fundamental rights: the rights to family� as claimed by Kanayo Chukwumezie
Combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Alien Card Residence Permit scheme is not infringing on any rights of Nigerians of their foreign born wives! If current fees charged are high and unaffordable for resident permit, Kanayo Chukwumezie, Johnson and other husbands of foreign wives should lobby law makers to change the law or pay the fees and be quiet, there is not national emergency in this! And they should stop insulting Nigeria, government officials and the rest of us! Being married to a foreign wife does not create specially protected class of Nigerians!
There is clearly no discrimination between those that are married to foreigners and those that are married to Nigerians! And it is pure sentimentality ask Nigerians to pity these Nigerwives because some are widows, pensioners, our mothers, our grandmothers and our great-grandmothers or because some have worked for decades for Nigeria and are now retired. Some have children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren that are Nigerians, There are Nigerians fitting the same categories here in America and no special dispensation is created here, everyone is compelled to obey Immigration and Naturalization Service laws and regulations and there is no selective application of laws and rules for widows etc. regarding immigration laws in America or anywhere else that I am aware of.
Kanayo Chukwumezie claims that these women are Nigerians by marriage, No sir, not so fast! Ask any Nigerian lawyer! Until and unless these women fulfil citizenship law and other requirements that may be so determined by the government, these women are not Nigerians, they have to be de jure Nigerians or they are not, No one becomes a defacto citizen of Nigeria or anywhere else! Citizenship is attained at birth or by due process!
Kanayo Chukwumezie said �Thirdly, by categorizing Nigerwives under the CERPAC scheme they are robbed of their indefinite residence permit which all of them have acquired. This in unacceptable. It is as illegal as it is insensitive. These indefinite residence permits (with multiple re-entry visas) were issued by the Nigerian Immigration Authorities and were duly paid for. To ask that they be exchanged for something less but more expensive is like drawing a battle line� This again is nonsense! The in America for example, when the Immigration Reforms took place, many things changed for immigrants from everywhere that are resident in America, and those who qualified and met the requirements or criteria for citizenship set by America became Americans! But those who do not qualify or are not willing to give up their original citizenship, were compelled to obey the rules under Kanayo Chukwumezie the new laws established by the Reform and Control Acts in 1986 and another in 1996! and Johnson can enquire about these from the US Embassy in Nigeria, write them or visit them.
Kanayo Chukwumezie and others clearly have a misunderstanding of when Nigerians should starts to defend their human rights. Kanayo Chukwumezie asks �Why should Nigeria charge so much for residence permits? Something must be wrong somewhere� No, nothing is wrong anywhere! Statutorily prescribed fees in America are not determined by votes or popularity contests, fees are fixed by the government of the day and based on the current laws!.
Kanayo Chukwumezie asks �How much is our proposed national identity card going to cost Nigerians? Ordinarily the cost of CERPAC's Residence Permit should be nominal and similar to the cost of our national identity card or the government shall be discriminating. If one has the hand of a monkey in his soup, he should be ready to answer a human eater.� These are determinations for the Nigerian government to make, Kanayo Chukwumezie and Johnson should not ask our government to cede this responsibility to them.
Furthermore, there is no correlation between National Identity Card cost to Nigerians and what any Alien, man or woman is charge for resident permit, this is not a drivers� license, it is a special document pertaining to the alien status of immigrants in Nigeria. Kanayo Chukwumezie says �Let Nigeria reciprocate what is obtainable in the countries of our wives. My studies reveal that foreigners either get citizenship or a residence permit of either one year, five years, ten years or indefinite. For Belgium, a residence permit is never allowed to cost more than what Belgians are being charged for their Belgium Identity Card. This cost does not exceed one percent of the country's minimum wage. In Nigeria nevertheless, the government is charging 200 per cent of the minimum wage for a residence permit, Nigerians living abroad shall be paying not less than two thousand United States Dollars for residence permits�
Let and Kanayo Chukwumezie others know that many Nigerians living abroad already pay large some of money for resident permits, and many also do so much to remain abroad including claiming false political asylum and thereby labelling our country with many unprintable names, Kanayo Chukwumezie should also be informed of the dehumanizing conditions and ridiculous rules that Embassies in Nigeria subject Nigerians in search of visas to, even on Nigerian soil!. The American and British Embassies have made ugly news repeatedly in recent times for the untold hardships and humiliation and suffering that they put Nigerians through in Nigeria!
Whatever some Nigerians and their foreign wives think of Nigeria and the laws, rules and regulations, they should obey the laws, rules and regulations, then perhaps lobby the law makers and government for some changes, that is what an aggrieved tax payer and citizen will do, not resort to disobeying the law or encouraging foreigner to disobey our laws, as if these Nigerians have no permanent interests and permanent stake in what happens to Nigeria?
All Aliens or Foreigners in any given country are the guests of the people and governments of the countries where they the Aliens reside, the host government and country should not be expected to create special category of persons who are not expected to obey the laws, or in this case, is it because it is Nigeria or Africa? I have never heard of another case similar to this peculiar one in Nigeria.
Immigrants everywhere usually clamour for a grant of resident or work permit, they clamour for a relaxation of the rules and processes, never arguing about the extent and scale of fees! All immigrants, including refugees, pay immigration fees and many other charges relating to their legalization of stay in any country.
These Nigerian husbands and their wives should love Nigeria whole-heartedly and must be willing to obey all the rules and laws of Nigeria or leave!
God and Allah have always blessed Nigeria and will continue to do so even more abundantly!
Paul I. Adujie is a Nigerian Lawyer and an Information Technology Professional