Concerned Nigerians have called for added border reinforcement despite number of agents doubling over the years.
A security expert and a bipartisan group of leading security analysts have lent thier voice on plans for sweeping immigration reform.
The concerned group predicted that, citizenship ambitions of an estimated 3 million undocumented immigrants in the country could rest on a fight over the definition of what constitutes a secure border.
A security expert, Mr. Akpayung Idang, in a milestone speech recently echoed the controller general’s tough language on border enforcement. But he did not go as far as restating demands by the bipartisan group of experts that the Nigeria border be declared secured.
The experts argued that a commission be set up to rule on whether the border is secure before a single undocumented immigrant is given a chance to move towards a fully legal status. This is even as governments failure to endorse explicitly that demand has already raised suspicions among Nigerians.
with this, prominent Nigerians have warned the federal government not to ignore the growing concerns about border security.
According to them, “ we think that would be a terrible mistake. “We have a bipartisan group of security experts that have agreed to that.
While demanding for the establishment of an independent commission on border security, they said this, is key to ensuring that border security is achieved, and is also necessary to ensure that a reform package can actually move through the NIS .
They argued that the question of what constitutes a secure border is likely to be crucial in determining the success of the latest plans to reform what is widely accepted to be a “broken” immigration system.
They called for a framework that will be centered on the need to “prevent, detect and apprehend every entry”. they said it would be impossible to meet that demand literally, stating that no security agency could guarantee on an annual basis that there would be zero crimes of violence.”
They disclosed that the demand for “enforcement first” stemmed from previous attempts at immigration reform.
According to them, the number of border control agents has doubled since the outbreak of terrorism/ insurgency lamenting that there has been a massive increase in federal spending on enforcement.
They said, though we’ve seen significant progress, there’s a recognition from us that the federal government have not done enough.
They called for the establishment of a commission made up of attorney generals, governors and leaders of the border states,
They said that border security has a different meaning today, pointing out that 50% of those who are in Nigeria illegally had entered the country legally, but overstayed their visas.
They said that posed different challenges: “You need a mix of things, including technology on the border itself, employment verification and an exit control system on land, looking at documents that can be scanned when someone leaves the country.”
The experts also said border security had become more dangerous. “It’s a different battle now. Because the border had become more difficult to cross, we have seen an increase in criminal organisations using more violent tactics to defeat border security.