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Misinformation and The Canadian “Lottery” Program

By Johnson Babalola

The messages kept coming in through emails, phones, and texts. They came from different individuals with varied educational and ethnic backgrounds but with one thing in common: they were all Nigerians. They all asked about the same program: the Canadian “lottery” program. A telephone conversation I had with a particular gentleman (hereinafter referred to simply as A) was touching:

A: Is that Mr. Johnson Babalola?

JB: Yes sir, how can I assist you?

A: Are you the Canadian Immigration lawyer in Toronto, Canada?

JB: Yes sir, how can I assist you?

A: Are you also a Nigerian?

JB: Yes sir, how can I assist you?

A: How is your family, sir?

JB: Very well sir and how is yours?

A: Not so well but that is a discussion for another day

JB: I am sorry to hear that. How can I assist you?

A: I pray that God will use you for my family and me.

JB: How can I assist you, sir?

A: Hmmnnn! I am calling about the new Canada visa “lottery” program, and I want you to help my family and me to get through. Someone told me that you might be able to assist us.

JB: Sir, there is no program as such. Canada has a number of immigration programs but no lottery program

A: Ha! But my friend Ayo paid someone in Lagos for the same program. He filled a form and made some payments, and they told him to expect the visa soon.

JB: I am sorry sir. Your friend was taken for a ride as Canada has no program as such.

A: But sir, another friend told me he read the information on the internet

JB: The internet has a lot of accurate and inaccurate information. As I said sir, there is no program as such in Canada. You may check the Canadian government’s immigration website for information.

A: I did but my friend said the person assisting him told him that the Canadian government is keeping the information under wraps.

JB: Sir, I only handle Canadian immigration matters. There is no such program.

A: Sir, please in the name of God, help us. I will pay you your fees

JB: This has nothing to do with your ability and willingness to pay my fees. There is simply no lottery program.

A: My God, what do I do now? I am tired of this country. I have no employment. I graduated six years ago, married with three children. My wife is the one feeding us from the proceeds from her hairdressing business. Life here sir, is very tough

JB: I understand but please do not complicate your situation by making payments for immigration programs that do not exist.

A: I have fasted and prayed and my Pastor assured me this is my year to travel overseas. Now you are saying that the program does not exist. Na wah o!

JB: I am not a Pastor sir. I do not see tomorrow. Only God does but as a lawyer, my advice to you is to be careful so that you are not taken advantage of. Always consult with reputable immigration lawyers before you start paying for services that may not exist

A: Ok sir. What immigration programs are available in Canada?

JB: Some of the programs in place are the Skilled Worker Program (Express Entry), Sponsorships by spouses or other family members, Quebec Investor Program, Ontario Investor Program, Manitoba Investor Program and other Provincial Nominee Programs. You can also apply to study or work in Canada.

A: Thank you sir. I will like to apply through the Express Entry one since I am sure it will be very fast

JB: Hold on sir. There is no guarantee that the process will be fast as there are many factors that may delay the processing. Most importantly there are criteria in place for each of the programs. Ensure your eligibility is assured before you start making payments for any Canadian immigration program.

A: Sir, it is a sign of the time. Many of us in Nigeria have no employment. We have no future and no hope. Nobody cares. We do not want to steal and the only way out is to travel outside of Nigeria. See, I am the first child of my parents. They are retired but have never received any pension. I have to take care of my siblings and my own family and I do not want to steal. I must leave Nigeria!

JB: I truly understand but first, take desperation out of this issue. Second, leaving Nigeria should not be a matter of life and death. Many are smuggled through dangerous routes to reach their destination. Many die along the way while many are sold into prostitution. While I am not discouraging you from traveling, I am urging you to do so legally. Otherwise, look inward and make your own contributions towards the development of Nigeria. Become self-employed. Farm, learn a trade. Just get something to do.

A: Thank you oga. Please save my number because I will call you from time to time. You are my brother now o!

JB: Sorry sir. Next time you call, I will bill for my time. I however hope you will educate others and I wish you all the best in life.

A: Thank you my brother. God bless.


Johnson Babalola is a Toronto, Canada based Immigration/Business Lawyer. He is the Managing Partner of Topmarké Attorneys LLP and can be reached at jbabalola@tpmattorneys.com