Nigerian NGO seeks extension of immigration amnesty programme

Nido-My spokesman Ahmed Adebanjo.

PETALING JAYA: An NGO representing Nigerians in Malaysia has appealed to the government to extend its Back for Good amnesty programme, which ends on Dec 31.

Ahmed Adebanjo, a spokesman for Nigerians In Diaspora Organisation Malaysia (Nido-My), said the programme, which began on Aug 1, coincided with a peak travel period, during which plane tickets are expensive.

He told FMT many Nigerians had already returned to their home country, but about 1,000 were seeking Nido-My’s intervention because they could not afford the flight from Kuala Lumpur to Lagos, which can cost thousands of ringgit.

According to a news report in August, KL Immigration Department director Hamidi Adam said illegal immigrants wanting to benefit from the programme should have flight tickets and travel documents with them and be ready to pay the RM700 penalty.

Adebanjo said many Nigerians who had overstayed or had been tricked to come to Malaysia to work were keen on going home.

“They cannot work here legally and it is difficult for them to earn a living,” he said.

“Many are suffering and just want to leave. But how can they leave when they don’t even have enough money for the air fare? This is not even taking into account the RM700 penalty.”

He also said cheap flights to Nigeria were few.

He urged the government to consider extending the amnesty period until after the peak travel period.

“If the government can extend the programme until at least the first quarter of next year, then I am sure the ticket prices will become more affordable,” he said.

There are an estimated 30,000 Nigerians in the country, according to Nido-My. It is not known how many have valid travel documents.