Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
Determined to ensure effective monitoring and improve security at the borders across the country, the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, at the weekend, inaugurated Forward Operations Base (FOB) of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) at Oja – Odan in Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun State.
The minister, who was at the event alongside the Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun, Comptroller General of NIS, Muhammad Babandede, Ogun State Comptroller, Doris Braimah and other personalities, expressed serious concern over the illegal economic activities at the borders with neighboring countries.
He equally lamented that huge importation duties accrue to Nigeria had gone down the drain, noting that the newly inaugurated FOB would enhance proper monitoring of the borders to prevent illegal immigration and importation of firearms into the country.
Aregbesola, further noted that smuggling, illegal migration and “subversive economic activities” at the borders have over the years undermined Nigeria’s economic sovereignty.
He, however, assured border residents agonising over partial border closure that the Federal Government would provide them with legitimate businesses in replacement of the illegal economic activities at the borders.
While submitting that perpetrators of illegal activities take advantage of the country’s porous borders, the minister expressed hope that with the ongoing drill, the porosity at the borders would be brought to a halt permanently.
“In as much as we like to maintain cordial relation, it must be within the ambit of the law. Illegal migrations, smuggling, trans-border banditry, criminality, subversive economic activities and other practices have undermined our economic sovereignty, way of life and rampart of these borders.
“I urge all our agencies to be vigilant and be up to their bidding and ensure that this untoward practices are brought to a halt. Again, I want to commend the courage of our president for approving the drill that is happening now.
“Border residents seem not to be happy now, but I assure you that you would be happy later because the Federal Government will give you alternative businesses and legitimate engagement that would bring legitimate wealth to your pockets and happiness to your land,” Aregbesola stated.
The minister, however, assured the residents that he would take up complaints of alleged killings of the people in the area by operatives of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
He, therefore, challenged traditional rulers in the border communities to prevail on their subjects to be responsible and by law abiding, saying “security agents have duties to apply minimum force to ensure enforcement of law and order where necessary”.
“It will be insane of any officer or operative bearing arm to just shoot at people; it’s impossible. But when people attempt to violate laid down rules and order, the only option left for men whose primary duty is to safeguard the interest of the nation, is to apply maximum or minimum force to ensure obedience to law and order.
“We are not by this recommending reckless use of arm. So, we are appealing through you (traditional rulers) to know that the interest of the nation is paramount,” Aregbesola submitted.