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Cameroonian refugees possess voters’ cards, Nigeria Immigration Service says

Calabar — Nigeria: The Cross River State Command of the Nigeria Immigration Service on Monday alerted the Independent National Electoral Commission to alleged illegal registration by Cameroonian refugees in the state.

The state Comptroller of NIS, Mr. Felix Uche, disclosed this when he led his management team on a courtesy visit to the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr. Frankland Briyai, at the state office of INEC in Calabar.

Uche disclosed that several Cameroonian refugees have been discovered to possess voters’ cards, even when they don’t hold dual citizenship that would have qualified them to have the cards.

Hundreds of Cameroonian refugees have entered Cross River State within the last one year, following the crisis in the southern part of Cameroon.

According to the Comptroller, there is a need for security agencies to assist INEC in stopping the refugees from participating in the ongoing Continuous Voters Registration exercise.

He said, “We need to put heads together to see how we can work together. Recent reports from the field are not so positive. The crisis in the southern part of Cameroon is such that Nigeria is having a fair deal — positive or negative.

“The problem we have in Cross River is that the contiguous nature of the border has made it more tasking carrying out our jobs. There is the ongoing Continuous Voters Registration and my men in the field have accosted and found some refugees in possession of the voters’ cards.

“We know that your task at this time is huge, we need to put heads together to stop these refugees who are being registered as voters. If you dig deep, you may discover that someone is prompting them to go and register because elections are around the corner.”

In his response, the REC said he had earlier met with relevant security agencies to ensure that the influx of Cameroonian refugees does not pose threat to the ongoing CVR.

Briyai, however, noted that the ongoing voter registration was only meant for Nigerians, adding that more strategies would be put in place to check intruders.

“When the issue of Cameroonian refugees came up, we met with security agencies to ensure that the influx of refugees does not hamper our CVR.

“The registration for Permanent Voters Card is meant for Nigerians alone, not refugees or immigrants.

“We have been working with security agencies to ensure that there are no intruders. We would need to re-strategise,” he said.

(c) The Punch 2018