By Muhyideen Jimoh
Abuja – Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has tasked the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on the need for free movement of its citizens while strengthening regional security.
Osinbajo made the call on Thursday at the ECOWAS Heads of Immigration meeting held in Abuja to foster regional collaboration and migration management.
Represented by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, Osinbajo also called for more effective and proactive migration management system in the sub-region.
“We have to find a sub-regional mechanism to solving insecurity challenges and irregular migration in ECOWAS,” he said.
He said that despite the need for free movement of persons within the sub-region, concerted efforts must be put in place to address the attendant security challenges such as human trafficking and terrorism.
Osinbajo charged immigration and security agencies within member states to develop a robust security gathering and sharing mechanism to address irregular migration and security challenges in the region.
The Minister of Interior, retired Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau , said all hands should be on deck to address the perennial challenge of irregular migration in the region.
“This meeting will help to strengthen cooperation amongst member states in the implementation of ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement of Persons in the light of the prevailing security challenges within the region,” Dambazau said.
The Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Muhammad Babandede, said that the meeting would examine the level of implementation of the various ECOWAS migration initiatives/programmes.
“I urge my counterparts (from ECOWAS) to make robust contributions during the thematic sessions to enable us to identify gaps in our operations and to work toward enhancing our regional security and economic interests,” Babandede said.
The two-day meeting with the theme: “Fostering Regional Collaboration Toward Effective and Efficient Migration Management in West Africa” is being attended by Immigration heads from the sub-region.
Others in attendance include; the armed forces, International Organisation for Migration (IOM), European Union and ECOWAS Commission. (NAN)