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Immigration innovations to strengthen national security

By Douglas Ogbankwa Esq.

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Make no mistake about it, Nigeria has perhaps the most porous borders in the World, whether on land, in the sea or through the Air. Nigeria’s borders are as porous as a hot knife slicing through a sleeping butter. So, where is the Nigerian Immigration Service in the midst of all these?

The Nigerian Immigration Service is mostly concerned with the money raking ventures in the Service- the issuance of international passports, the issuance of work permits and expatriatê quotas, etc.

The core of Immigration duties, which are ensuring that undocumented foreigners are not allowed into the Country, ensuring that a company does not excede its expatriate quota, the insistence on the possession of work permits by foreigners working in Nigeria, precluding illegal emigration and other sundry duties are largely unattended to.

So you find that the so called Fulani Herdsmen comprise of undocumented foreigners who got here by the sheer incompetence and indifference of our Immigration Service.

The Service has also been unable to do anything about Citizens passing through the dangerous and labyrinth like trajectory to Libya to get to Europe. They are unable to stem the criminal gangs that run the organised crime called human trafficking, which by the way goes side by side with organ harvesting and organ trafficking.

We have a number of artisans from Lebanon, Israel, China and other third world countries, who are in their thousands in Nigeria running portfolio companies, with many of their unqualified staff who have expropriated Nigerian Jobs, without work permits and /or expatriate quotas.

The worst part is that Nigerian Soldiers are used to escort these artisans to and from work, just because their skin is white. A desecration of our symbol of National Defence.

In most West African Countries, if you can not identify yourself properly as a foreigner, that you have legal documents to live in those countries, you are apprehended and deported immediately.

There is no thought for the Security implications of these highly reprehensible security breaches. Many of these foreigners may be Secret Service Agents or Agents of Terrorist Organisations, wrecking havoc on our helpless and hapless Citizens or threatening our national security.

At some point during the Buhari Presidency , a Nigerian Legislator raised an alarm that a large number of Chinese Nationals in Nigeria are prisoners in China brought to Nigeria to serve their prison terms under the guise of working in Nigeria, turning the whole of our Country into a huge jail and that after their prison terms , they go back to China.
The issue was swept under the carpet and was never investigated till date.

The Nigerian Immigration Service should wake up to its responsibilities , as it is the most dyfunctional arm of the Armed Forces. The Service should be able to identify, isolate and deport undocumented foreigners. Most of the Kidnappers on our high way are not Nigerians, but foreigners.

Foreigners can come into Nigeria, lodge in hotels, move across the Country without any ascertainable activity and depart without our security apparati, tracking or knowing their mission in Nigeria. The Immigration Service is in the front line of the security of the Country. If they get it wrong, our security would be in extreme jeopardy.

The Presidency and Commander-In- Chief of the Armed Forces should therefore rejig the structure and modus operandi of the Immigration Service to ensure optimum operational module.
If we got our immigration policies right, we would get our security right.

In this light, we should also syncronize our National Identity Database to create a single National Identity Number or Social Security Number with a syncronised biometric that will create a National Crime Lab and install CCTV Cameras all over urban areas in phases.

We should also have a detailed data base of all foreigners in Nigeria and track their activities the way we track the activities of hotels.

It is of utmost National interest that a large proportion of our citizens are enlisted and trained as informants to the Secret Service and the police, as it is done in other climes where security is of utmost national interest. Until all these and more are done, insecurity in Nigeria will be intractable and foreigners will be a bane on our collective existence.

In trying to achieve the above, the Federal Government of Nigeria, should scout for a new leader of the Nigerian Immigration Service, that shares the vision of a new Nigeria. CG Immigration must be one that has proven track record of competencies in using immigration policies to strengthen National Security.

About the Author:

Douglas Ogbankwa Esq.,@ douglasogbankwa@gmail.com, is a Nigerian Lawyer , Writer and Policy Analyst, who is the founder of Security Situation Room.

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