Border Closure Not against ECOWAS, Says Immigration Boss

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Ibrahim Shuaibu in Kano

Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Mr. Mohammed Babandede, has said the partial closure of Nigeria’s border with neighboring countries was not aimed at distorting relationships or economic activities of any member states of the Economic community of West African States (ECOWAS), but for national security and economic development of the Nigerian state.

Babandede said the partial land, sea and air closure policy of the Nigeria government was not against the ECOWAS, but to ensure sanity in Nigeria especially in the areas of national security as peoples’ movements are controlled and economic development as it would create employment opportunities as local productions are enhanced.

Speaking during the graduation ceremony of the upgraded officers of the Nigeria Immigration Service at the Immigration Training School in Kano State held over the weekend, Babandede said: “What we are saying is obvious, the land borders have been closed partially because of the operation “Swift Response” being coordinated by the office of the National Security Adviser of which I said is of great security and economic benefit to Nigeria.”

According to him, “No country in the world would allow people and products to enter into its territory through any available routes and without valid travel documents.”

He said the border crossing saga has been eased by the Nigerian government for non-Nigerians and Nigerian alike, but only through a controlled border post and for those with genuine travelling documents.

“Immigration has allowed through the approval of Mr. President in order to ease the tension for the people that both our citizens and non-Nigerians can enter and leave Nigeria only through a recognised immigration control post and they cannot leave without a travel document,” explained Babandede.

Nigeria recently closed its borders with neighbouring countries to stop importation of some banned commodities, including rice which is highly cultivated in the country as well as smuggling of some products from the country especially petroleum. The policy was also stretched to include the movement of human beings.

On the graduation ceremony, he said the reason for the upgrade and conversion training for the officers was to prepare them for leadership positions in their career in the immigration and in their service to the public as they move from junior to senior cadre.

Prior to this day, they were superintendent cadre or supporting officers but with their training and upgrade they can be held accountable. They can now head units wherever they are. So, it is like preparing them for leadership. Doing that will enhance the service they have to deliver to the public,” he added

The commandant of the training school urged the participants to be of good behavior and put to work all they have learnt in the course of the training.