By Dominic Akpan
The Nigeria Immigration Service, Akwa Ibom State Command, has hinted of its plan to set up a collaborative structure with border communities to help check irregular migration, sensitise the people on the border zones of the dangers of human trafficking and build a closer relationship with the stakeholders.
Speaking at the weekly radio programme, Immigration Half-Hour, the comptroller of Immigration Service in the state, George Didel, said that the collaborative structure which will be known as Border Community Relations Committee (BCRC), will bring together all the stakeholders in the border communities for an effective security management.
Through the BCRC, the command will receive intelligence on irregular migration, human trafficking and other border crimes, which will enable the personnel of the Service to respond faster to check the commission of crimes, CIS Didel said.
He disclosed that the state has the longest maritime border in the country, measuring 129 kilometres, regretting that the task of securing the stretch alone, which is just one of the border routes, is enormous and challenging when compared to the personnel available to the command.
‘The NIS has the mandate to protect Nigeria’s borders from irregular migration. They comprise land, maritime and air borders. We have a long stretch of border land; about 4,900kms of land border across four countries in West Africa.
‘We also have about 853kms of maritime borders, which are contiguous with the Atlantic Ocean. The service is mandated to carry out patrols along this border lines to largely prevent irregular immigrant into our country,’’ the Comptroller said.
On how secure are Nigeria’s borders, the comptroller said that the service is doing its best within the limits of available resources; personnel and equipment, adding that the insinuations in some quarters that Nigeria’s borders are not secure was not entirely true.
‘Countries all over the world, including the US, with all its technology in security and logistics, is still confronted with the issue of irregular migration. We are secure, because we do not have the number if irregular immigrants that the US is currently facing. Ours is largely controlled. Yes, we have few challenges with our border security, but we are secure,’ he said.
He explained that the service was aware of the speculation in the polity that some politicians are planning to bring in miscreants to help them rig the 2023 elections, and the service, according to Didel, is responding to the threat by intensifying its border patrols, setting up checkpoints in contiguous routes, stepping up its vigilant security component at the borders, and being on the lookout to prevent as much as possible irregular entry into the country.
To achieve the aim of preventing irregular entry, the comptroller said that the service is working in partnership with the agencies that are enrolling Nigerians into the National Identification Number database and it is also looking out for those obtaining voter cards.
He further disclosed that the service is training its personnel on border security, document fraud, prevention of human trafficking, and has also put in place new innovations, one of which is an application called, MIDAS, an acronym for Migrant Information Data Analysis System.
‘‘All migrants must come before the immigration officer and have their data taken, the way we also take data of Nigerians before issuance of international passports.
‘There is an international data base across the world, once we take the biometrics and finger print, it will pop up information about the person.Those are some of the things we are doing to improve our border security.
While commending Gov. Udom Emmanuel for his support to the command, which he said has been tremendous, Didel further appealed to him for more logistics in the areas of vehicles, gunboats, and equipment.