The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) deported 64 irregular immigrants and repatriated 1,132 others in 2020, according to the 2020 Annual Report of the agency released on Tuesday.
Ms Bimbola Ojo, Assistant Comptroller-General, Planning, Research and Statistics, presented the report at the NIS headquarters in Abuja.
According to Ojo, the agency 3,112 Nigerians were refused departure from the country while 3,563 foreigners were denied entry into the country in the year under review due to COVID-19 pandemic.
She said there was a sharp reduction in the movement of people into the country by land and air due to COVID-19-related border closures.
“But through the sea borders, we discovered there was a huge rise in the number of immigrants.
“In 2019, 40,872 immigrants made their way to the country through the sea. The figure shot up to 213,116 immigrants in 2020.
“This represents an increase of 13.5 per cent in 2020 compared to seven per cent in 2019.
“Immigrants resorted to the sea borders due to closure of the air and land borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Goods and services were still moving in and out of the country through the sea borders because they weren’t affected by the restrictions,” she said.
However, Ojo said the agency recorded a 68.7 per cent decrease in the total number of immigrants in the country in the year under review.
The official also disclosed that the agency recorded a decrease in the number of asylum seekers in 2020 due to the pandemic.
According to her, total number of passports issued in 2020 for Standard, Official and Diplomatic stood at 764,294 compared to 1,198,275 in 2019.
She added that this showed a decrease of 433,981 or 36.2 per cent.
“The lockdown and other crises during the year accounted for the sharp decrease,” she said