By Johnbosco Agbakwuru – Abuja
The Federal Government on Wednesday said that there was nothing known to the law that can prevent border movement.
The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola stated this while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the fourth virtual Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The Minister who presented the scorecard of his ministry to the FEC said that the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS has commenced implementation of the Border Management Strategy (BMS).
According to him, “We completed the installation of MIDAS at all international airports in Nigeria. The construction of a world-class technology building to manage all Nigeria Immigration Service ICT enhanced systems in Nigeria is nearing completion.
“14 well-equipped Forward Operation Bases (FOB) has been deployed at some entry points of the country.
“We have deployed the Visa-On-Arrival with biometric features at all entry points (air borders). Migration Information Data Analysis System (MIDAS) has now been deployed at all entry points (air borders).
“We have deployed Visa-On-Arrival at all air borders to aid easy business and tourist travels. We initiated the online application for Nigerian passports.
“As of today, 145,695 lost and stolen Nigerian passports have been uploaded after successfully connecting the passport database with that of National Central Bureau (NCB) Interpol police database domiciled with the Nigeria Police.
“In the area of public engagement, the Nigeria Immigration Service twitter handle has been recognised as one of the most robust and responsive handles.”
Asked how the migration information data would be used to checkmate the land borders especially as the borders are porous, he said,”Let me be clear and remind us of the fact that our boundaries are artificial.
“And those of us who have traveled or related to communities at the border posts, I know of a particular village in Ogun where the boundary between Nigeria and Benin Republic cuts the palace of the traditional ruler of that town into two.
“When people mention porous border, I ask myself do they really understand what they are talking about. They are talking about boundaries that are very artificial in some cases and therefore very difficult to Police outside police engagement strategy.
“There is nothing known to the law that can prevent cross border movements because the same community is now located in two different countries through the artificiality of the boundary. So we are increasing our engagement with the community.
“We are going to involve a robust engagement strategy involving communities critical stakeholders, leaders in identifying elements that are dangerous to the security of the country on either side of the border.
“As we are increasing our competence and deployment of technology at the air border, we are doing the same at the land border. As I am talking, we have activated a 14 forward operation basis at the land border.
” Yes what we need to do is about far more but four forward operating bases with arm patrol are already in operation, I have commissioned some. We are not limiting it to that.
” We are engaged in a contractual deal with Huawei to develop a robust e-land border management system that will deal with close to half of border surveillance which will make possible for us in Abuja to know at the press of a button what is happening in Ileila or any of the borders that will be covered by that system.
“The contract has been awarded, what we are working on now is the funding and that is at a very advanced stage.
” So, in conclusion, therefore, we are not overlooking the need for effective management of the border, we are conscious of the threats posed by criminal elements posing as herders coming from the neighbouring countries and we are really up to it together with other security agencies namely the Police, the SSS, the NIA, and the military, we are working to prevent any incursion into our country of elements that threaten our security and this is not limited to land border.
“As we are critical and alert at the land borders, we are equally doing a lot of work at the maritime end, preventing piracy and any undue incursion of our territory at that end just as we are equally committed to preventing elements that are unwanted from entering through the air or the air borders.”