AS part of efforts to reduce border crimes including banditry, smuggling, human trafficking and others, the Nigerian immigration Service (NIS) has inaugurated another Forward Operational Base (FOB) in Ilase, Ogun state bringing the number in that state to two, the first was commissioned October 12, 2019 in the border town of Oja-Odan
The Service has also warned its men to desist from charging entry and/or exit levy to migrants stating that the borders were open and migrants only needed proper travel documents at the nation’s entry points.
Controller-General of the Nigerian immigration Service, Muhammad Babandede made this known in Ilase today, Friday during the official inauguration of the facility, noting that the idea of establishing the forward operational bases was aimed at addressing the numerous challenges confronting border frontiers.
He said the service was committed to constructing and equipping forward operational bases nationwide across all the border frontiers for effective policing and Ogun state has its second because of its large border ass and the necessity.
“Ogun State has land mass and several borders and very strategic borders that is why we have another FOB here but we must commend the governor, he is a good friend of NIS as I said FOB is to ensure that borders are patrolled by the officers without being stationary.
“The reason is at there are people who would avoid using the designated borders so the Forward Operational Base is a strategy established among immigration to patrol the orders so that whoever is apprehended can be apprehended on behalf of other law enforcement. If it is goods the immigration officers will hand over the goods to customs, if it is drugs they will hand over the drugs to tag NDLEA, if it is police issue, police and if it is state matters, they are handed over to the SSS. So we are immigration officers, but we are patrolling on behalf of other law enforcement so consider them your partners,” he said.
He continued,” We are doing it by needs, we took Ogun because of large land borders and international connection and base in the budget available this year we would do more, I’ve not come to open because I just love Ogun state , no there is a need there for border management to enable law enforcement to patrol along the path that is not the normal route, there might be a border along the corner but some people will not want to pass through where there is an immigration officer.
According to Babandede, the FOB project was completed last year but could not be commissioned because of the COVID-19.
He said the service is fully committed to addressing crimes being committed in the border frontiers such as cross border banditry, smuggling of migrants and trafficking of persons and drugs.
Giving his goodwill message, Governor of Ogun State Dapo Abiodun who was represented by the Commissioner of Tourism for the state, Dr. Taiwo Emmanuel stated that Ogun State is truly a gateway state bordering West Africa and called on the Federal Government to continuously fund and tool the NIS to guard it properly.
He also stressed the economic advantages of inter-border relationships bust stressed that migration should be studied, understood and managed to get the best or crimes like smuggling contrabands, banditry and other inimical vices would threaten the country’s security.
“The fact that Ogun state has two FOBs is indeed a testimony of our status as a gateway of land borders…”
“Migration is a veritable tool for development when well managed and the establishment of an FOB is an important strategy that has continued to attract foreign investment to our country. Much is expected from the Nigeria Immigration service and when provided with the necessary tools and gadgets to carry out its constitutional role, it would thrive and safeguard the borders,”
Nigerianflightdeck reports that the facility has a 32 bed capacity for junior and senior staff quarters, operational base comprises a mosque, chapel and control towers and the building is installed with split air conditioners, generators, solar inverters, functional borehole for water supply.
Speaking on the levies being charged migrants at some entry point, Babandede described it as illegal stating that already some service men are in Abuja and would be facing disciplinary action for the act.
He said,”I will like to state clearly, the Nigerian borders as far as immigration are open our land borders, air borders, sea borders are open part of conditions Mr. President has given us is that persons who want to enter Nigeria, migrants and citizens must travel through the established borders and must travel with the correct travel document . I urge immigration officers to desist from collecting levies, there is no levy for entry or exit, there is no tax, entry and exit at our borders is free.”
Present at the event also were the Elasa of Ilase Kingdom, Kabiyese Oba John Olaifa Olawole, the Olu of Ilaro, Paramount Ruler of Yewa land, his Royal Highness Oba Kehinde Gbadewole Olugbenle and other dignitaries