The growing concern over the unbridled influx of illegal aliens into the country was recently brought to the fore with the warning from immigration authorities to Lagosians not to harbour illegal immigrants in their homes. The Comptroller of Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) in Lagos State, Mrs. Clara Okojie, issued the warning after the recent repatriation of 29 illegal immigrants from the state. She disclosed that the illegal aliens, who were mostly from Niger Republic, were arrested on Lagos Island and its environs. They were, after profiling, found to be without any of the travel documents required by Nigerian law and the Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS) protocol.
While we appreciate the efforts of the Lagos Command of the NIS to rid the state of undesirable aliens, we cannot but add that the number of aliens repatriated is just a tip of the iceberg of illegal migration into the state and the country. Apart from Lagos Island where the 29 illegal aliens were arrested, many other parts of Lagos harbour undocumented aliens.
These unregistered aliens can be found in large numbers in Okokomaiko, Alaba Rago, Mazamaza, Oshodi, Oyingbo and many other parts of Lagos. Most of the okada riders, security guards and water hawkers operating in Lagos State today are illegal aliens from neigbhouring West African countries such as Benin Republic, Niger, Chad and Mali, just to mention a few. In fact, some of them have of recent been found to be involved in criminal activities such as robbery, kidnapping, murder and rape.
These illegal aliens are not at all restricted to Lagos State. They abound in other parts of the country, notably, Abuja and the Northern states. They can also be found in Southern cities like Asaba, Onitsha, Enugu, Aba, Calabar and Port Harcourt. This list is not exhaustive in any way.
We, therefore, urge the NIS and other security agencies to wake up and rise to the challenge of checking illegal migration into the country. At this time that the nation is grappling with insecurity arising from the Boko Haram insurgency, herdsmen’s menace, kidnapping, robbery and militancy, it is necessary to check the influx of illegal aliens who can only compound these problems.
We do not think that the NIS is doing enough in this regard. All the security agents at our borders should wake up from slumber and properly police these entry points to keep aliens who do not have the necessary travel documents out of the country.
The way they have done this job so far has not been impressive. The Minister of Interior, Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau, should be worried about this matter and do something urgently to arrest the ugly situation before it gets out of hand. The minister should take more than a passing interest in the unbridled influx of illegal aliens in view of the nation’s mounting security challenges.
Our borders should be adequately patrolled to ward-off illegal aliens. These borders should not be avenues for corrupt security agents to make money from undocumented immigrants. The Federal and state governments should also work in concert to secure all the entry points into the country.
Let the government commence an intensive and earnest operation to rid the country of illegal aliens. We recall that in 2013, the Federal Government repatriated not less than 19,000 illegal immigrants who were suspected to be fueling insurgency in parts of the country. There should be a repeat of that exercise because more and more illegal aliens are trooping into the country at great risk to individual and national security.
The time has come for government to apprehend and repatriate these aliens. The Federal Government should also charge the agencies saddled with this task to sit up and do their work seriously and effectively.