(Romanus Ugwu, ABUJA)
Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has made a passionate appeal to the Ag Inspector General of Police (IGP) Ibrahim Idris, to grant the service access into the INTERPOL I-24/7 portal in line with the renewed battle to further degrade and eliminate Boko Haram Islamic militants.
NIS Controller General (CGI), Muhammad Babandede, who made the appeal when the IGP paid him a courtesy visit at the Immigration headquarters in Abuja, argued that such access has become imperative since NIS provides frontline officers at our land, sea and air borders the security architecture of Nigeria as in other countries.
While stressing that access to the INTERPOL database will considerably improve our border security, the immigration boss noted that INTERPOL I-24/7 network which enables the 190 member countries to search and cross-check data of suspected criminals, wanted persons, stolen or lost travel documents within seconds, will enhance its operations.
His words: “To win the war against terrorism, insurgency and other organized crimes it has become imperative for the Nigeria Immigration Service to be granted access to the INTERPOL I-24/7 portal.”
He further argued that though INTERPOL I-24/7 installed at all 190 National Central Bureaus are under the Police, however in some countries where Immigration and Customs are not under the Police, INTERPOL focuses on extending access to these other agencies.
The CGI noted that while the service await the materialization of its request, it has however recorded tremendous successes in the area of border control and at the airports through the Electronic Passenger Registration System (e-pars).
According to him; “NIS has achieved tremendous success in border control at our Airports through the Electronic Passenger Registration System (e-pars). The e-pars has integrated components that simultaneously cross-checks the data of a passenger against NIS watch list as well as registers his arrival or departure real time when the passenger’s passport is placed on the Document Reader at the immigration control point,” he noted.
Speaking further the CGI emphasized the need for the NIS and NPF to collaborate at the lower level especially as he intends to send a memo to the Hon. Minister of Interior, Lt. General Abdulrahaman Dambazau (rd), to request the use of the instrumentality of the Immigration Act 2015 and the Immigration Regulation to commence registration of all foreigners from the Local Government Areas, adding: “At this level it would be productive to share intelligence between the two security agencies.”
Earlier, the IGP had told his host that his visit was to seek collaboration in the area of Internal Security, emphasising: “if criminals can work together to inflict pain on the society, there is no reason security agencies should not come together to present a stronger front.”
While acknowledging the cordial relationship that exists between officers of the Nigerian Police and Immigration, he proposed: “the establishment of a center where officers representing the various security agencies can jointly co-ordinate activities in providing internal security.”