The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) has cautioned Nigerian students against going to Northern Cyprus.
Its chairperson, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said this on Thursday in Abuja at a ministerial briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team.
She said Northern Cyprus was not recognised by the UN, adding that a lot of students had been killed there.
“There have been a lot of problems in Northern Cyprus; we have youths come to tell us, please tell everybody to stop going to Northern Cyprus.
“We did that sometime ago and we were challenged at what rights we had to tell people not to go to Northern Cyprus.
“I say it again; if you have to go to Northern Cyprus, think twice about it; no fewer than 20 students have been killed over the years and nothing has happened to the assailants.
“Students who had gone there earlier came to tell us that they had to embark on an awareness campaign. Don’t go to these places; Northern Cyprus is recognised only by Turkey,’’ she said.
Mrs Dabiri-Erewa added that NiDCOM would continue to appeal that Nigeria takes a strong decision about places like Northern Cyprus.
She said the commission would continue to engage the National Assembly on Diaspora voting.
According to her, the commission had discussed with both chambers of the National Assembly on the need for Diaspora voting, but its effort was not successful.
Members of the National Assembly recently voted against the Bill seeking to provide for Diaspora voting in the Constitution.
“We engaged with committees on Diaspora affairs in the parliament both at the House and Senate particularly for Diaspora voting, unfortunately, we didn’t succeed.
“The National Assembly is still not interested in Diaspora voting, but we will not relent in continuing to engage with them because I believe and every person should know that the Diasporan should be able to vote.
“So, we hope that we will continue to engage with the parliament,’’ she said.
According to her, there is no controversy about Diaspora voting as a Diasporan is someone who is living legally in another country.
Mrs Dabiri-Erewa explained that an illegal immigrant that went through the desert could not be classified as a Diasporan.
She added that to be a Diasporan, one must be a legal resident with a name, address and evidence of tax payment in that country.
“And that will even help us in defining Diaspora for those who are worried, it is not because you ran to another country that you are going to vote, no, you have to be a legal resident.
“Don’t be worried that maybe some are more in number. With the data that we are compiling, no tribe is more than the other; in Sudan alone, there are about five million Nigerians there, that is the truth.
“So, with the data we are compiling, you will find that Nigerians of all tribes are all over the world.
“So, if Diaspora voting starts, it doesn’t mean that we will start at a go; it is left for INEC to decide. You can start with personnel, maybe, military personnel that are posted abroad.
“We have to vote, it is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when it is going to start,’’ Mrs Dabiri-Erewa said.
She said NiDCOM would continue to engage the parliament on the issue.
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