THE Nigerian community in Lesotho is mulling consultative meetings with the government of Lesotho to find ways of ensuring their members’ stay in the country conforms to immigration regulations.
This comes against the background of concerns that some of their members were ignorant of Lesotho’s immigration laws and requirements and have therefore, unwittingly found themselves on the wrong side of the law.
Newly-elected president of the Association of the Nigerian Community in Lesotho (ANICOL) Emanuel Folaji recently revealed the plans in an interview with the Sunday Express.
Mr Folaji said there were approximately 300 members of his association who had come to Lesotho for different reasons including business and as volunteers who assisted the government of Lesotho in various programmes.
He said in as much Nigerians entered the country legally, some ended up on the wrong side of the law as a result of the plain ignorance of the laws and policies.
He said it was therefore imperative for them to be fully informed about the country’s immigration laws hence the need to meet with the stakeholders to seek knowledge.
“This step (seeking dialogue) we are taking has been necessitated by the need to foster amicable relations between the Nigerian community and Lesotho because we need one another,” Mr Folaji said.
“Some of us operate businesses and we provide jobs.
“We are tax payers and it is only fair that we look into these issues to ensure we continue working very well together.”
Narrating his own experience Mr Folaji said: “I got an indefinite sojourn after receiving my Lesotho Identity Document (ID).
“I was told by Home Affairs officials that I did not need a work permit anymore and so I didn’t bother to renew my work permit then.”
He said it was only when he sought to apply for citizenship and that he was told by different officials that he still needed a work permit.
“So, we would like to meet with them so that we will be well informed,” Mr Folaji said.
He said his association could work as a facilitator and thus save costs of travelling for Basotho who were currently forced to travel to the Nigerian Embassy in South Africa whenever they needed visas to travel to Nigeria.
“In as much as we are not that many, we can contribute to the country economic development hence the need for such meetings and collaborations.”
Mr Folaji said the association also worked to ensure discipline among members and pledged to always work with the law enforcement agents to bring to book those who committed offences in Lesotho.
“One rotten potato spoils the rest hence we have to ensure that our people are well disciplined and live in peace in this country,” Mr Folaji said.