Nigerian legislators want border closure to include trans-border human movement
London, Dec. 11, 2019 (AltAfrica)-Members of the Nigerian lower legislative chamber, the House of Representatives has called for stricter enforcement of the country’s border closure policy by deporting illegal immigrants, among other measures.
The House at the plenary on Tuesday resolved that the current closure of the country’s land borders against movement of goods was not enough, calling for restriction of human trans-border movements.
The lawmakers particularly urged the Nigerian government “to immediately review the immigration procedure in the borders with a view to restricting illegal immigration and deportation of illegal aliens residing in the country.”
They also urged the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Muhammad Babandede; and the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (retd.), to “be committed to and exercise full control over the movement of persons and goods along the Nigerian international borders.”
The resolutions were passed based on the unanimous adoption of a motion moved by Mr Rotimi Agunsoye, titled, ‘The Closure of Nigerian Territorial Borders Not Enough.’
Moving the motion, Agunsoye said, “The House is aware of the continued closure of Nigeria’s land borders, which have remained closed to passage of goods and persons as well as other economic activities for the past three months.
“The House is cognisant of the monstrous challenges bedevilling the economy of the nation as a result of illicit and rampaging activities that have festered along the borders all around the country.”
The lawmaker noted that the decision by the Muhammadu Buhari administration to close the borders followed the global trend of an increased monitoring of international borders to check and ascertain, especially, the inflow of goods and immigration of foreigners.
Agunsoye, however, said, “The House is worried about the continued influx of illegal immigrants mostly of African descent into the country, who gained easy access through the various porous land borders. The uncontrolled immigration of unlawful immigrants into the country poses strained socio-economic and political threat to the country.
“The House is cognisant that to have a sustained economic growth as well as security and political stability, Nigeria has to strengthen and control movements at borders and repatriate illegal aliens and unlawful immigrants. The implementation of stringent immigration policies and restrictions of illegal movements along the country’s international borders would sprout an imminent verbal and direct attacks from neighbouring countries and other countries of the world.”
Meanwhile, the House also resolved to investigate the allegations by the Nigerian Army that some non-governmental organisations in the North-East were conniving with Boko Haram insurgents.
The House, therefore, resolved to mandate the Committee on Civil Societies and Development Partners to “investigate the allegation by the Nigerian Army that NGOs operating in the North-East zone are abetting terrorists in the area.”
The committee was asked to “ensure the brokering of agreement between them in order not to jeopardise the provision of aids for the Internally Displaced Persons in the zone.”
The House asked the committee to report back within four weeks for further legislative action.
NIS registers 61,137 undocumented migrants
Commenting on the call by the lawmakers to deport illegal aliens, the NIS said it would not carry out the deportation of irregular migrants until the end of the six months amnesty period granted undocumented migrants to register with the service.
The NIS spokesman, Sunday James, said the grace period announced by President Muhammadu Buhari would end on January 12, 2020.
He stated, “The President gave a six-month amnesty period which would lapse in January 2020. We cannot carry out deportations until then, we cannot disobey the presidential directive on that.”
James disclosed that 61,137 undocumented migrants had so far registered with the service, adding that the exercise was still in progress.