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Nigeria-UK Migration Agreement: Smugglers, illegal migrants to face maximum sentence, deportation

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THE United Kingdom government has signed a new migration agreement with Nigeria that will deter illegal migration, the Home Office announced Friday.

Under the agreement, both countries will issue emergency travel certificates or temporary passports within five days in order to speed up removal of people with no right to be in the UK.


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“Our new landmark agreement with Nigeria will increase the deportation of dangerous foreign criminals to make our streets and country safer.

“The deal will mean that operational teams in both countries will share their expertise to take the fight to criminal people smugglers who are responsible for a wider range of criminality and put profit before people while undermining the security of our two countries,” Home Secretary and member of the UK Parliament for Witham Priti Patel said.

On Thursday, 21 people (13 Nigerians and eight Ghanaians) with no right to be in the country, including those with combined sentences of more than 64 years, for crimes such as rape and sexual offences against children, were deported.

The UK is also working closely with the governments of Belgium, France and Rwanda to do everything possible to stop illegal migrants before they reach the UK.

While thousands of illegal migrants are ferried into the UK by small boats from bordering countries, some people who enter the UK on regular routes can still become irregular migrants.

According to the UK government, illegal migrants include persons who entered the UK without authority, entered with false documents and individuals who have overstayed their visas.

Priti Patel
Priti Patel
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It also includes people who work or study on a tourist visa or non-immigrant visa waiver, enter into forced or fraudulent marriages or had their marriages terminated or annulled.

The agreement will compliment UK’s newly approved Borders Act which prescribes increased maximum sentence for illegally entering the UK or overstaying a visa and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for people smugglers and small boat pilots.

In addition, the act puts into law that those who could have claimed asylum in another safe country but arrive illegally in the UK, can be considered as ‘inadmissible’ to the UK asylum system.

UK Guardian reported that the deal with Rwanda, which will reportedly cost an initial £120 million, follows three years of promises by Patel to outsource asylum processing to third countries and failures to strike deals with Albania and Ghana.

Under the arrangement which has faced heavy criticism, migrants will have their asylum claims processed in the East African country and be encouraged to settle there.

“We will now work tirelessly to deliver these reforms to ensure we have an immigration system that protects those in genuine need while cracking down on abuse of the system and evil people-smuggling gangs,” Patel assured.

In 2021, French and UK authorities prevented more than 23,000 attempts to travel illegally to the UK.

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Over 6,000 crossings have been prevented so far in 2022, more than twice as many as at this point last year.

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