By Harrison Arubu
Abuja – The Minister of Interior, retired Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau, on Thursday inaugurated the country’s first operational border patrol base of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), in Katsina.
The base, sited at Mazanya community in Jibiya Local Government Area bordering Niger Republic, is part of measures by the NIS to effectively secure the country’s borders.
Represented by Mr Mohammed Umar, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Dambazau said the facility would help the nation’s fight against irregular migration and cross-border crimes.
He said, “The responsibility of securing the territorial borders of a vast country like Nigeria is quite enormous and overwhelming.
“This is why establishing border patrol bases is timely as a means of supporting existing border patrol structures by intensifying surveillance along notorious routes and enforcing our immigration laws.
“It is our belief that the operation of this patrol base and others that will come on stream, add impetus to the fight against trafficking in persons, smuggling, proliferation of small arms and light weapons and other forms of cross-border crimes across our borders.”
He stated that the current administration was working on all fronts to ensure internal security, with effective border policing as one of the priority areas.
While lauding the NIS for the initiative, Dambazau urged officers who would man the bases and other border patrol units to continuously create awareness of their roles.
He stressed the need for them to work closely with other security agencies, especially in the area of information sharing and joint operations along the border, when necessary.
The Comptroller-General of Immigration, Mr Muhammad Babandede, said the project was a demonstration of the agency’s commitment towards effective patrol and monitoring of the nation’s lengthy borders.
“In addition to the Mazanya Border Patrol Base, the NIS has also established three others; we are running a pilot project: one in Ogun (Oja Odan), one in Jigawa at Maigatari, another one in Oyo at Shaki.
“What we are saying is that it will no longer be possible for immigration officers to stay at the border waiting for migrants to come.
“We have to patrol the borders, not where human beings are but the bushes because we are bush officers.
“We are paid to be border officers; patrol the flank of the borders, not to disturb people in the cities,” he said.
Babandede said the Jibiya axis was one of the major routes of trans-Sahara migration into the country.
He explained that the base was designed to extend command and control of border patrol units and to provide support for immigration operations.
He said that the base has provision for office and residential accommodation in addition to being a holding facility for the detention of irregular migrants.
The Controller of Immigration, Katsina state Command, Mr Joshua Ajisafe, revealed that the state is host to an approximately 203.5km borderline with Niger Republic.