By Miriam Humbe
Nigeria, like many countries, recognizes the economic, social and political benefits of international mobility. Last week, the Nigeria Immigration. Service (NIS) officially opened its new Migration Information and Data Analysis System (MIDAS) at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.
The Abuja Airport is the second busiest airport in Nigeria, serving approximately five million passengers annually. The MIDAS system, developed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), enables immigration and border officials to process travellers more rapidly and professionally, making their border-crossing experience safer and more humane.
“MIDAS helps the Government of Nigeria to better understand mobility patterns through its statistical information and also ensure that those crossing Nigerian borders do not pose threats to national and international security,” explained Muhammad Babandede, NIS Comptroller General during the commissioning event at the airport.
MIDAS also enables States to more effectively monitor those entering and exiting their territory by land, air and sea while providing a sound statistical basis for migration policy-related planning.
To date, the project represents the largest deployment of MIDAS at any airport globally and it will be implemented in four other Nigerian airports welcoming travellers: in Lagos, Enugu, Kano and Port Harcourt. This marks a breakthrough for Nigeria which hopes to establish one of the world’s largest MIDAS data networks.
“MIDAS improves the effectiveness and efficiency of Nigeria’s air border management by strengthening NIS’ ability to manage and facilitate cross border movements,” added Nicolai Ruge, Ambassador-at-large for Migration of the Government of Denmark.
The project Enhancing Air Border Data Systems in Nigeria is supported by the Government of Denmark. MIDAS in Nigeria has been also supported by other donors including the Governments of Germany, Japan, Norway and Switzerland as well as the European Union.
This nationwide system will enable real-time data synchronization between the airports and the NIS Headquarters in Nigeria’s capital to effectively monitor those entering and exiting through the country’s air borders.
The system can also send automatic queries to INTERPOL databases and relevant watchlists in order to detect travel documents and individuals potentially linked to transnational organized crime, including human trafficking and migrant smuggling.
“This is just the beginning. With support of the international community, we will continue investing in strengthening legal, technical and operational capacities of Nigerian authorities in the area of border management in line with international standards and good practices,” said Ivanka Spadina, IOM Senior Programme Manager.
A set of standard training packages is also being delivered for the country’s immigration officers and government IT focal points as part of the MIDAS roll-out. IOM also promotes a responsible use of biometrics, in full respect of privacy and personal data protection laws and international standards.
Developed and globally managed by IOM, MIDAS is a fully customizable Border Management Information System (BMIS) for States seeking a non-commercial, cost-effective and comprehensive solution.
MIDAS has been designed to be compliant with international standards (ICAO and ISO) and is currently operational in over 20 countries globally, while the IOM also ensures that governments such as Nigeria have the full and exclusive ownership of any data recorded by MIDAS.