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Insecurity: Joint Military Task Force Shuts Down Nigerian Borders [UPDATE]

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A joint Task Force of the Nigerian Armed Forces, the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), and other security and intelligence agencies at the nation’s borders, closed down activities at  the nation’s borders on Wednesday.

Disclosing this to the Tribune Online exclusively on Wednesday, the former Chairman of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) at Seme border, Mr. Lasisi Fanu stated that there was no movement in and out of the Seme border when the joint security officials arrived the border on Wednesday.

According to Lasisi Fanu: “For now, there is no thoroughfare at the Seme border. I couldn’t even drive-in.

“I was asked to park my vehicle somewhere because of the heavy presence of security operatives at the border.

“There is no movement in or out of Seme border today. We understand the situation is the same at all other border points. We just hope things will get relaxed maybe tomorrow.”

When contacted, the Spokesman of the NCS who also doubles as the Spokesman of the Joint military exercise, Joseph Attah stated that the non-allowance of people in and out of the borders was immediately corrected by the joint military team.

In his words: “In the morning of Wednesday, we heard that people were not being allowed in and out of the borders, so we quickly called our people to correct that aspect of the joint military exercise.

“The exercise is not meant to debar people from moving freely in and out of the borders as long as they have legitimate reasons to be there. That was in the morning of Wednesday.

“So I don’t know where people are getting such information from. Maybe some people with ulterior motives suddenly became intimidated by the heavy security presence at the borders. We are not stopping movement in and out of the borders, as long as such movements are legitimate.”

It will be recalled that the Federal Government, on Tuesday, had announced the commencement of a joint border security exercise, codenamed “EX-SWIFT RESPONSE” at the nation’s borders.

The joint exercise is being coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and will take place in 4 geopolitical zones, namely; South-South, South-West, North-Central and North-West.

It is expected that the exercise will promote interagency cooperation and increase preparedness to address trans-border security challenges such as terrorism, armed banditry, smuggling, the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, amongst others.

The exercise will also involve the movement of personnel, vehicles and equipment within the affected parts of the country.

The government had called on members of the public not to panic and should continue to engage in their normal duties.

The overall objective is to ensure a peaceful and secure country in the interest of our National Security.

In another development, the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) on Wednesday officially commenced the e-registration scheme of all migrants residing in Lagos State who have attained the age of 18 years and above, saying this was part of the major reform of the service under the Comptroller- General, Muhammed Babandede, to ensure a complete end- to- end integration of migration management in the country.

This was just as it warned that any immigrant, who continues to reside irregularly in the country by failing to register upon expiration of the six-month amnesty granted by the Federal Government, would run foul of the law and would be punished accordingly.

Comptroller of the service in Lagos, Mr. Ekpedeme King, said this at the commencement of the exercise, which official flag-off was performed by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mrs. Sherifat Folashade Jaji.

King, while speaking at the Ikoyi office of NIS, where the ceremony took place, and attended by leaders of immigrants in the state, noted that the power to carry out the registration exercise was derived from the Immigration Act 2015 and Immigration Regulation 2017 and in tandem with the United Nations Conference at Marrakesh, Morocco in 2018.

According to him, the conference themed: “Global Compact for Migration,” advocated for safe, orderly and regular migration, pointing out that its implementation required a credible, reliable, comprehensive statistics and data on migrants.

He said the global compact demanded that immigrants should furnish the NIS vital information about “how they came into the country, where they reside and what to do.

“Furthermore, the CGI envisages that the e-registration scheme will address some security challenges currently facing the country as well as create a conducive environment for the migrants,” he said.

Speaking further, King listed those that were eligible for registration to include all migrants residing in the country who had attained the age of 18 years and above.

According to him, all immigrants who intend to remain or reside in the country for a period exceeding 90 days from the date of entry are also required to seek registration, while persons enjoying diplomatic immunity were exempted.

“However, persons enjoying diplomatic immunity are exempted. We should note that the emphasis here is place of residence not employment. More importantly, the e-registration scheme is free as there are no charges whatsoever on the migrants.

“You would recall that the Federal Government had granted a six (6) month amnesty to all immigrants residing irregularly with effect from 12th July 2019. It is expected that those migrants will take advantage of this magnanimous gesture and come forward for registration. Failure to comply with the Migrant Registration is contrary to Section 57(5) of the Immigration Act 2015 and is punishable under the same Act,” he stated.

The comptroller, however, said the service was ready to engage all relevant stakeholders in Lagos, particularly the state government “to ensure that the goals of the scheme are achieved.”

Speaking, Mr. Temitope Ojekunle, who performed the flag-off on behalf of the SSG, commended the NIS for the initiative, saying it was in good direction aimed at monitoring the movement of immigrants in and out of the country.

Leaders of the immigrants, including Benny Tong, a businessman from Hong Kong, who had spent 32years in Nigeria; Frank Ekow Quiye, President, National Association of Ghanaian Community in Nigeria (NAGHACON); Ding Chuanfa, a Chinese; among others also commended the NIS on the initiative, promising to ensure full compliance.

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