Monday, 12 Sep 2011
To arrest the worsening state of insecurity and curtail the activities of the Islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram, the Federal Government has launched a plan to reconstruct and computerise 84 border posts.
The Minister of Interior, Mr. Abba Moro, who disclosed this in Abuja on Friday, also said that government would initiate a review of the Economic Community of West African States’ protocol on movement. The protocol allows citizens of ECOWAS countries to move freely across member states.
Moro said, “Plans are at an advanced level for the Ministry of Interior and the Immigration Service to work in conjunction with the National Boundaries Commission, to identify all our boundaries.
“At the moment, we are aware of 84 border posts in Nigeria. Of course, we have numerous others that are rather irregular. People who perpetrate the acts that are inimical to national security are people who cross to Nigeria through these irregular entry points.
“So, we are trying now to confirm the borders and, as I am talking to you, we have held discussions with foreign organisations and firms who have agreed to install what they call layered surveillance along our borders.
“This layered surveillance has the capacity to detect and identify people who enter Nigeria illegally and people who carry equipment that can compromise our internal security.
“By the time we put this plan in place, it will have a central control, so that even right here in Abuja, you can know what is happening at our borders in Maiduguri, Sokoto or Lagos.”
One of the recommendations of the Federal Government Committee on Security Challenges in the North-East set up to proffer solutions to the Boko Haram menace is the mass deportation of illegal aliens. The report is yet to be made public but THE PUNCH obtained a copy last week in Abuja. The committee says its findings show that illegal aliens from Niger Republic, Chad, Benin Republic, Somalia and other neighbouring countries are swelling the rank of the violent Islamic sect.
Our correspondent learnt that members of the committee concluded that similarities in the culture of the illegal aliens and some ethnic groups in the North helped the aliens to move around the country and integrate in communities.
The minister also expressed a similar opinion. He said, “The ECOWAS protocol provides for a relaxed requirement for entering into the country, but today, we have discovered that that protocol is being abused.
“We have also discovered that most of the syndicates that perpetrate fraud and, recently, those involved in suicide bombings are nationals of these other countries that you have mentioned.
“So, what government has put in place is a stricter measure for entering Nigeria. I can tell you that we have had reasons to stop large numbers of nationals of other countries at various points of entry.
“As recent as last week, a truckload of about 150 Nigeriens heading for Nigeria was turned back at the borders. Only recently too, a joint taskforce of the Army, the Police, the State Security Service, the Nigeria Intelligence Agency, the and Immigration Service, swooped on the hideout of a syndicate in Lagos, and those that were arrested and identified as foreigners have been repatriated.”
The minister also said that the Federal Government had started addressing the challenge posed by the absence of necessary data on Nigerians and non-Nigerians. As a result, he said, plans were underway to establish “a central data for Nigerians and foreigners visiting the country for genuine business activities and even illegal aliens involved in inappropriate business.”
The minister explained that the central data base would make it easier to separate people who came to the country for genuine business from those who did not, stressing that the latter category would be blacklisted as threat to national security.