It is painful that the security situation at the Nigerian land borders is failing precipitously. Also, the performances of the security agencies at the border communities remain unspectacular, leaving Nigerian citizens and the economy in peril.
The near absence of security network at the land border communities has resulted in the unrestrained illegal entry of all sorts of immigrants through Nigeria’s neighbouring countries chiefly Niger and Chad Republics, most of whom are unskilled and unschooled. Indeed they are not adding value to the economy of this nation.
As it is today, no meaningful economic activity is taking place at the land border communities. What this nation witnesses haplessly are violent crimes including armed robbery which are huge disincentives to the economy of Nigeria. No serious investor can be attracted to those areas despite their huge economic potentials.
There are proven cases of involvement of these illegal immigrants spear heading heinous crimes in Nigeria. The nefarious cross border crimes bothering on stealing of vehicles some years ago that threw Nigerians into panic and kept the security agencies in a great dilemma was stage managed by late notorious Hamani Tijani, a citizen of Niger Republic.
Furthermore, they execute other insidious criminal activities. For example, they are often used by politicians to vote during elections and used as thugs by the same politicians. During the past head counts, they were often brought into the country by political leaders to be counted. All these resulted in distortions of electoral and census figures.
Sadly, products banned by the Federal Government still enter the country through the land borders, thus rendering the efforts of the government to protect the national economy worthless. The Nigeria Customs Service has not been able to achieve meaningful results as a result of high level of smuggling activities at the nation’s land borders. At times officers and men of the service are either maimed or killed by smugglers armed with superior weapons.
All these disquieting activities are thriving in Nigerian land border areas because of the weak security network especially lack of adequate police presence at the border communities. For instance, the leaders of Gashigar, a border community with Niger Republic, in Mobbar Local Government Area of Bornu State that was burnt by Boko Haram insurgents recently noted that there is no police presence in the area which the police countered stating that there is police presence, is an indictment on the Government.
This frustration also compelled the governments of Lagos and Ogun States to commence arrangements to tackle smugglers. This is also a clear case of the police not paying adequate attention to the security at the land border communities.
The Nigerian Immigration Service has woefully failed in this direction by not establishing its offices in these sensitive areas to check the influx of immigrants.
With the Federal Government’s Transformation Agenda aimed at boosting the National economy, it is germane to frontally tackle the influx of these illegal and unskilled immigrants who are entering and penetrating Nigerian Communities with sufficient force and injecting negative values that are being used to destabilize parts of the country.
The economy, the citizens and their properties must be protected. All forms of legitimate economic activities should be allowed to grow in the land border areas. The Inland Container Depots (ICDs) and Freight Stations earmarked for Borno and Katsina States on completion, will definitely promote cross border trade, but will not survive under a climate engulfed by violent crimes. The ICDs are meant to serve Nigeria’s land locked neighbours.
With the frightening situation at the Nigerian land borders, the Federal Government and its relevant agencies must rise to this challenge by giving adequate protection to the lives of the citizens and their property and also allow and allow socio-economic activities to go on in calm and secured environment by taking urgent and sustained efforts to establish police stations in all the border communities. The police should be fully equipped with modern weapons and communications gargets for effective security of the land borders.
In addition to this, the Nigeria Immigration Service should establish offices in these strategic locations and be able to check those entering the country. Regular air surveillance of these border areas should be carried out to deter unwanted immigrants.
Lastly, Nigerian Security Agencies should form a synergy with their counterparts of the neighbouring nations. Where such cooperation exists, efforts should be made to consolidate them. Legitimate business should be encouraged to grow at border communities and not illegal trade.
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