Nigeria has 1,400 unmanned illegal entry points, says NIS

Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) Comptroller-General Martin Abeshi has said that there are 1,400 unmanned illegal entry points into the country.

Abeshi spoke at the 2016 Comptroller General of Immigration’s annual conference and stakeholders’ interactive forum held in Lafia, Nasarawa State last week.

The NIS, he said, is contending with many challenges in the performance of its duties.

He noted that prominent among the challenges were inadequate funding and understaffing.

“As most government agencies, the NIS is underfunded”, he said.

“Consequently, we are unable to procure the required patrol vehicles, aircraft, boats and communication gadgets as well as modern arms and ammunition.”

The Immigration boss complained that the NIS has less than 23,000 workers, stressing that “the enormous statutory obligations of the NIS coupled with emerging migration trends and trajectories make this number of personnel inadequate.”

He said while only 114 control posts were approved across the country’s land borders, there were 1,400 illegal routes that are not manned.

The comptroller general solicited the support of stakeholders to overcome these challenges.

Also speaking at the forum, former Permanent Representative to the United Nations Maitama Sule said terrorists are targeting Nigeria due to its rich natural and mineral resources.

Sule, who spoke on “Identifying the nexus between the working conditions of security personnel and patriotism at our borders,” said Nigeria’s wealth was attracting international criminals.

“Nigeria is a target of interest from other parts of Africa because of our resources. We have got natural resources in abundance.

“We have diamond, we have gold, we have uranium, we have petroleum, we have other minerals. These things attract people from other parts of Africa and other parts of the world,” he said.

Sule added that there was need for Immigration to measure up to international standard to tackle the challenges of policing the country’s borders.

“Externally, our image has been damaged. Drug trafficking, human trafficking, 419 have tarnished the image of Nigeria.

“You (NIS) have to keep your eyes open to check illegal immigrants coming to exploit our resources but you need modern gadgets to discharge such responsibilities.

“We must bring in modern technologies to enable immigration discharge its duties properly. In this modern age, you can’t control the borders without helicopters and other modern gadgets,” the elder statesman said.

Speaking at the event, President Muhammadu Buhari warned officers and men of the NIS to shun corruption and sharp practices capable of tarnishing the image of Nigeria.

The President, who was represented by Minister of Interior Lt. Gen. Abdulrahaman Dambazzau, said effective border security/management must be intelligence-driven.

His words:”The NIS cannot afford to rest at this critical time of our national life, as the myriad of irregular migration and other forms of trans-border crimes, including arms smuggling, human trafficking, drug trafficking and terrorism must be tackled. Inter-agency cooperation must be based on mutual trust and respect.”

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