The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has described the six week ultimatum given by senators as unnecessary, saying that all is being done to address the security problem in the country.
The minister, who was responding to questions by State House Correspondents after Wednesday’s virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, however lauded the senators for their patriotism and concerns, saying steps are being taken to address them.
“… we thank them for their patriotism and their concern, but we are working round the clock, 24 hours, to ensure that the situation is brought under control,” Mr Mohammed said.
“I want to assure you that the president is aware of all these and as a matter of fact, I think tomorrow there’s going to be another security council meeting. So, it’s not a matter the president is taking lightly and like I’ll always, say some of the measures we are going to take are not measures that you can discuss openly here, but we’re as concerned as you are, we’re not going to abandon our responsibility.”
Mr Mohammed also said that the council approved a memo by the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, for a standard operation procedure on maintaining the civilian and humanitarian character of asylum seekers in Cameroon.
According to him, “You all know that due to the insurgency in Cameroon, Nigeria has witnessed an influx of Cameroonian asylum seekers and there are basic standard procedures for you to be granted status as an asylum seeker
“This is what the council considered and approved today. And basically is that anybody from Cameroon who is seeking asylum in Nigeria must first convinced the authorities that he or she has actually renounced armed struggle, before you can even be considered as an asylum seeker.
“Also they are cases of some of them who have come even when they claim to have surrendered their arms, go back at times, to join the separatist movement in Cameroon. So, the procedure was explained and approved today that will evaluate the basic criteria to grant asylum.”
He said with the security challenges in some parts of the country, government was taking the step, to ensure that insurgents or terrorists do not take advantage of asylum to infiltrate Nigeria.
“The issue of the standard operating procedure for asylum seekers from Cameroon is not a matter that started today. The issue of the separatist movement in Cameroon is many years old and every day, because of the proximity of Cameroon to Nigeria, we’ve witnessed an influx of refugees, seeking asylum, and under international regulations, there are certain procedures you must take for asylum seekers.
“So, all we have done today is to establish the standard procedure to ensure that those who claim to be asylum seekers are actually not insurgents themselves that have come to destabilize Nigeria or people who will come and be launching attacks against their own country from the comfort of Nigeria,” he said.