Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigrations Service (NIS), David Parradang, yesterday admitted before the Senate Committee on Interior that there is no effective control around the nation’s borders to verify migrants in and out of the country.
“Distinguished senators, you would have gone round one or two of our borders and at best, they are open fields; there is no form of control that can be said to be effective because most of them are open”, Parradang said while briefing the committee during yesterday’s budget defence by his agency.
“It is not right for us to leave them that way because a lot of illegal immigrants can come in and a lot of arms can be moved in and we have complained severally that there are many unmanned routes, illegal crossings, and that no control posts had been stationed in these areas”, he added.
He further warned that it was not in the security interest of Nigeria to continue to leave the borders porous, thus proposing the setting up of “plazas” across the border areas to help checkmate influx of foreigners.
The Immigration CG said such plazas, if provided, would help to transmit censor signals to the control rooms of the agency.
This, he said, would help to alert the agency any time there is illegal entrance or exit through the nation’s borders, even as he said that failure to do this could complicate Nigeria’s security challenges.
However lamented that the money provided to his agency was grossly insufficient to cater for the challenges it is facing in monitoring illegal immigrants or to check their activities in Nigeria.
Based on this, the CG pleaded with the senate committee to assist the service by ensuring that the 2014 budget addresses the border issues, by providing for the procurement of high technology equipment.
“We need plazas in some key areas of the border and what we have for border patrol here cannot even build a boys quarter in some areas. We feel that the issue of plaza should be put back in the front burner.
We need to look at our key entry points in our North-east, North-central, and North-west and some South-south areas”, he said.
“We should look at bringing back plazas in those areas in an integrated manner that will be able to have censors or radars that can pick movements across. It is not too much to invest in security. If the first line is broken then we cannot be able to provide security”, he further warned.
In addition, he said: “What we feel is the most important thing to do is to get the communication equipment on ground. If we want to make an interception and arrest anyone that is coming into the country illegally, we must be able to pick him before he crosses the border.”
Responding to the issue of the recruitment exercise recently embarked upon by the agency, Parradang said: “We started the process and had got the approval of the board to recruit 4,600, but, there was no budgetary provision to fund the exercise and pay the staff. When we approached the DG Budget’s Office, he said that they cannot make available that amount of money since the year was almost running out”.
While disclosing that the recruitment exercise could be completed in 2014, the CG of Immigration said that N4 billion would be required to pay the staff that would be recruited.
Most of the NIS CG’s other comments were in response to questions by the senators on how much the agency generates, what it does with the funds generated through passports and Visa transactions, among others.