Aug 29, 2016

Busayo Adedeji - Corporate and Individual Liability Under The Immigration Act (2015)

The immigration act was recently reviewed/amended and same was signed into law by former president Goodluck Jonathan before leaving office in 2015. The law (upon signing by the then president) immediately became effective as the principal law regulating immigration in Nigeria.

Some of the sections detailing corporate and individual offences/punishments under the act are highlighted below:

  • The act expressly prohibits persons’ order than citizens of Nigeria from accepting employment anywhere in Nigeria (except same is offered by the government) without the consent of the Comptroller General of Immigrations (CGI) being first sought and obtained.[1]
  • The act goes further to state “no person other than a citizen of Nigeria shall on his own account or in partnership with any other person, practice a profession or establish or take over any trade or business whatsoever or register or take over any company with limited liability for any such purpose, with the consent in writing of the Minister”.[2]
  • The act states that any person desirous of entering Nigeria shall produce to an immigration officer consent of the CGI failure of which attracts a fine of One Million Naira (N1,000,000) or deportation or both as a prohibited immigrant.[3]
  • Where a person formerly exempted from the foregoing provisions of the act ceases to be so exempted, he shall be deemed as a person seeking entry in to Nigeria for the first time and the foregoing shall apply to such a person.
  • The CGI may revoke a permit or reissue it on such terms and conditions as he deems fit, failure to comply with the directives of the CGI attracts imprisonment for a term of 5 years or a fine of Two Million Naira (N2,000, 000) or both.
  • Any expatriate person who fails or neglects to apply for the:
1.  Regularization of his stay in Nigeria within the stipulated period;

2.  Renewal of his business visa, transit, visitors pass, or Temporary Work Permit (TWP); or 

3.  Renewal of his residence permit after thirty (30) days of the expiration of same is guilty of an offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term of three years or a fine of Five Hundred Thousand Naira or both.[4]

  • The act expressly prohibits the discharge, re-designation and change of employment of an expatriate employee without the consent and approval of the CGI first sought and obtained. The implication of this is the employer, employee and their dependents (if not Nigerian citizens) being deported and business wound up.[5]
  • It is an offence under the act to alter, produce or reproduce a travel document.
  • The act also makes provisions for punishments for offences that have not been captured by the act, the punishment in such cases are imprisonment for a year or a fine of One Hundred Thousand Naira (N100,000), in the case of the offender being an agent the punishment shall be imprisonment for ten years or a fine of Two Million Naira (N2,000,000).
It is pertinent to state that the new immigration regime under the new CGI has shown zero tolerance for issues relating non-compliance, has investigations and invitations of erring corporations are the order of the day. Despite the foregoing corporations and individuals alike should always seek the assistance of an immigration lawyer when immigration issues arise.

Busayo Adedeji is an Associate in the corporate and commercial, corporate immigration, employment and labour, banking and corporate finance practice group of Bloomfield Law Practice; and advises multinational and local clients on matters such as regulatory compliance, trade unions, labour and employment, dispute resolution etc.
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[1] Section 36(1)(a)
[2] Section 36(1)(b)
[3] Section 36(2)
[4] Section 57 (5)
[5] Section 58