Understanding the Nigerian Immigration Act: Safeguarding Borders and National Interests

Understanding the Nigerian Immigration Act: Safeguarding Borders and National Interests

Author: Margaret Ogbonnah


The Nigerian Immigration Act is a vital piece of legislation that plays a crucial role in regulating the movement of people across Nigeria’s borders, safeguarding national interests, and contributing to the overall security and development of the nation. Therefore, this Act was enacted to address the various challenges related to immigration, it provides the legal framework for immigration control, enforcement, and the protection of both Nigerian citizens and the nation’s territorial integrity.

Historical Background

In 1963, Nigeria had her first Immigration Act which has however undergone several amendments to bring it into conformity with the ever-changing societal, economic, and security situation of present time. The latest significant update to the immigration law of Nigeria was in 2015 when the Nigerian Immigration Service Act was enacted, which gave the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) more power to perform its functions more effectively.

Key Objectives and Provisions
1. Control of Entry and Exit: The Nigerian Immigration Act empowers the NIS to control entry and exit of persons into and out of Nigeria. This includes the
issuance of passports, visas, and other travel documents, as well as regulating the movement of non-citizens within Nigeria.
2. Citizenship and Nationality: The act outlines the requirements for acquiring Nigerian citizenship and the conditions for dual citizenship. It also defines the rights and privileges of Nigerian citizens, protecting them from discrimination.
3. Immigration Enforcement: The act provides the legal basis for the NIS to enforce immigration laws, apprehend and deport illegal immigrants, and
regulate the activities of non-citizens within Nigeria.
4. Border Management: It emphasizes the importance of border security and outlines measures for securing Nigeria’s borders against illegal crossings,
human trafficking, and smuggling.
5. Registration of Aliens: The act requires all non-citizens residing in Nigeria to register with the NIS. This registration process helps the government keep
track of foreign nationals within the country.
6. Deportation: The act stipulates the conditions under which a person can be deported from Nigeria, safeguarding national interests and security.
7. Immigration Offenses and Penalties: It defines various immigration offenses and the corresponding penalties, including fines and imprisonment
for offenders.


The Nigerian Immigration Act serves several crucial purposes for the country:
1. National Security: By regulating the entry and exit of people, the act helps in safeguarding national security by preventing unauthorized immigration,
human trafficking, and other criminal activities.
2. Economic Development: The act ensures that foreign nationals who enter Nigeria do so for legitimate reasons, contributing to the country’s economic
3. Border Control: Nigeria has a vast border, and effective border management is essential to prevent illegal crossings, smuggling, and the movement of
terrorists and criminals.
4. National Identity: It defines the rights and privileges of Nigerian citizens, ensuring that they are not discriminated against and that they enjoy the full
benefits of citizenship.

Challenges and Future Directions

While the Nigerian Immigration Act plays a significant role in safeguarding the nation’s interests, several challenges remain, including the need for improved infrastructure and technology at border crossings, training for immigration officers, and efficient visa and passport services. The government is continually working to address these issues to enhance the act’s effectiveness.

In conclusion, the Nigerian Immigration Act is a critical piece of legislation that plays a pivotal role in safeguarding national interests, security, and economic development. As Nigeria continues to grow and evolve, it is essential to ensure that this act remains robust and adaptable to address emerging immigration and security challenges, while also upholding the rights and privileges of Nigerian citizens.


This article is for information purposes, it may or may not reflect the current position of the law and is therefore not intended to provide legal advice or guidance on litigation or provide commentary on any pending case or legislation.


Immigration Act 2015