Alhaji Muhammad Babandede, the Comptroller-General, Nigeria Immigration Service, on Monday said the service would adopt a proactive border policy to enhance security in the country.
Babandede disclosed this at the inauguration of the 2018 Comptroller-General of Immigration Annual General Conference in Maiduguri.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports the two-day conference has as its theme: “Enhanced Border Security and Control of Irregular Migration: A Panacea for Internal Security Challenges”.
He said the conference would enable the officers and personnel to brainstorm and come up with a strategic frame work to meet the challenges of the modern times.
He said: “Our duty as immigration officers is to strike a balance between facilitation and security.
“The Federal Government is committed to the ease of doing business in the area of trading across borders and free movement of persons without compromising security.
“We are doing everything possible to ensure that travelers have a good experiencing when crossing our land, air and sea borders.
“We also recognised that global migration issues have become so complex and dynamic implying that strategies and mechanisms that worked in managing it in yester years have become grossly inadequate.
“It is for this reason that we have remained consistent in our conferences as they remained avenues for sharing of experiences with critical stakeholders that have been of tremendous benefits to our operational activities.
“Last month, we organised a Border in Transition conference in collaboration with the University of Ibadan. The recommendations of the BRIT and outcome of Maiduguri conference will be the basis of an emerging border policy.”
The comptroller-general said that the service had initiated various reform programmes to enhance its operations to enable it to discharge its statutory mandate effectively.
The CG listed some of the programmes to include staff welfare; promotion of 3, 405 personnel; visa and residency reforms; introduction of biometric visa in 17 missions; and reinvigoration of Visa-on-Arrival scheme.
Other projects are: construction of modern office accommodation in five states; border posts; provision of operational vehicles and installation of Information and Data Analysis platform in five international airports.
According to him, the Federal Government has approved a N7 billion technology building project to enhance data keeping and promote synergy with sister agencies data interface.
Babandede lauded President Muhammadu Buhari over his support to the service and reiterated the service’s commitment to effective border management as well as as protect lives and property.
The Minister of Interior, Lt. Gen. (rtd), Abdulrahaman Damzau, said that there was the need for government agencies saddled with border management to work to ensure safer borders, to check spate of criminal activities in the country.
Dambazau, who was represented by Alhaji Muhammad Tambuwal, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, attributed the security challenges bedeviling the country to the porosity of the borders.
He noted that migration was a veritable tool that brought about rapid development and growth in all sectors of a nations’ economy.
The minister said that the perennial challenges of the menace of irregular migration and the attendant plethora of trans-border criminal activities associated with the scourge require decisive and well-thought out containment action plan.
He said: “President Buhari remains committed to giving the NIS all necessary support to enable it to achieve its statutory mandate.”
Governor Kasim Shettima of Borno commended the NIS for its contributions to the secure the border to facilitate protection of lives and property in the state.
Shettima disclosed that the NIS had on many occasions arrested smugglers while trying to import arms and ammunition into the country through the porous borders of the state.
He added that the contributions of the NIS had prevented Boko Haram insurgents’ from smuggling weapons into the country.
The governor called for the establishment of advisory committee on border security and execution of joint viable projects such as education, healthcare, economic empowerment and infrastructure development in border communities, to enhance security in the country.
While commending the sacrifice of the personnel of the service killed by Boko Haram insurgents, Shetiima assured of government support to the NIS.
NAN reports that the conference was attended by members of National Assembly and State House of Assembly, Non-Governmental Organisations, military, police and other security agencies.
Others are: Civil Society Organisations, community and religious leaders.