Nigeria urgently needs to secure its borders


A fresh directive by the President, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), through the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, that the Nigerian Immigration Service secure the country’s borders and make them impenetrable to illegal immigrants lays bare one of the loopholes in Nigeria’s security system. The President’s primary reason for the mandate, which is expected to start before the general elections and end after it, is to keep out those “who might want to come in and manipulate the election process or engage in other nefarious activities.” The distracted Buhari should ensure that the mandate is methodically implemented.

Nigeria shares borders in the North with Niger Republic, in the North-East with Chad, in the East with Cameroon, and in the West with Benin Republic.

The National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, had lamented that Nigeria’s land and maritime borders “are porous and poorly managed, and this placed further responsibility on the border security agencies.” Sadly, more than a year after Monguno’s lamentation, no concrete strategies have been implemented to adequately secure the country’s borders.

Nigeria had around 1,500 identified land border crossings as of 2016, a former Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Martin Abeshi, stated. Of these, only 114 had approved control posts manned by immigration officials and other security agencies.

On his part, the Chief of Defence Staff, Lucky Irabor, says 137 out of about 261 borders in the North-East and North-West are unguarded. He said, “The porous nature of the borders has made it easily accessible for terrorists and bandits to enter the country to commit mayhem … Intelligence suggests that violence actors are using some of these normal border points to move freely from countries into Nigeria to cause mayhem.”

Therefore, beyond the motive of the elections, there is a need for the government to holistically tackle Nigeria’s perennial challenge of porous land borders to ensure security.

In 2021, Buhari admitted that despite his regime’s closure of borders from August 2019 to December 2020 in a bid to crack down on smuggling, arms, and ammunition continued to flow into the country illegally. He attributed this to the unrest in Libya. While the Conflict Armament Research Sources identified Libya – which is contiguous to Niger Republic – as one of the three major supply routes of illegal arms, the excuse touted by Buhari underscores the abject failure of his regime to attain victory in the prolonged war against terrorism.

In 2020, amid concerns about insecurity and the influx of bandits into the country from Niger Republic following the abduction of schoolboys in Kankara, Katsina State, Buhari had said only God could effectively supervise Nigeria’s borders with that country. The remark was greeted with much outrage from various groups. As such, the influx of arms and non-state actors into the country through the Niger Republic borders has continued unabated.

Findings have revealed that unlike the country’s land borders in Cross River with Cameroon and in Lagos with Benin Republic, where there are major entry and exit routes, the Niger Republic borders into Nigeria are largely made up of forests and vast swathes of land, most of which are not covered by immigration officers and security agents.

Related News
  • Insecurity: FG strengthens border control, management
  • Border patrol team arrests Nigerian, Beninoise with $285,000, CFA18.9m
  • Baby, three others freeze to death near US-Canada border

In 2020, the former Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, John Enenche, stated that the Nigerian military intercepted a notorious smuggling syndicate, and foreigners who concealed arms in their vehicle in Sokoto State. Not only do illicit goods, illegal firearms, and smugglers move effortlessly through these uncontrolled entry/exit points, they also serve as escape routes for terrorists after carrying out their raids in Nigeria. This disturbing trend threatens Nigeria.

As citizens will go to the polls in less than 20 days, the issue of border security should be taken seriously to safeguard Nigeria’s sovereignty. Recently, the NIS arrested 516 illegal immigrants from Niger, Chad, Cameroon, Togo, and Senegal in Kaduna State with some of them having Permanent Voter Cards and National Identity cards in their possession. In January, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps in Imo State said it arrested 21 suspected human traffickers and five illegal immigrants in 2022.

Last October, no fewer than 36 illegal Cameroonian immigrants were apprehended by security agents in Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos State. In Bayelsa State, NIS and Nigeria Police officers apprehended scores of immigrants over alleged improper travel documents, residence cards, and permits. A documented record indicated that between 2017 and 2020, the NIS arrested over 99 illegal immigrants from neighbouring countries. Undoubtedly, the menace of undocumented immigrants in Nigeria feeds into the culture of infiltration by foreigners into Nigeria.

It is partly why the 2023 World Population Review ranks Nigeria sixth on the list of countries with a high number of illegal immigrants. India and China rank first and second respectively. The United States ranks third on the list.

Financially, the porous borders hurt Nigeria deeply: the Nigerian National Petroleum Company says at least 42 million litres of petrol are smuggled out of Nigeria, costing about N2 billion.

Since the 1990s, the United States border forces have attempted to block migrants from crossing into urban areas by mounting traditional checkpoints. In recent years, they have adopted a more digital means of patrolling the US-Mexico borders. They have installed a 150-foot surveillance tower, a growing assemblage of cameras, sensors, drones, and aerial surveillance, particularly along the Arizona border zone, which is one of the busiest and deadliest crossing points for migrants from Mexico.

To monitor its borders, India has embarked on the utilisation of facial recognition and artificial intelligence-based systems, radar, sonar, laser, and drones to stop cross-border infiltration. The Nigerian government and its security agencies should also be forward-thinking and adopt the use of technology as a tool in strengthening the country’s borders, in addition to the erection of physical structures.

The capacity of the NIS to secure the country’s borders should be beefed up and the service should be peopled by professionals. There is also a need to establish a broad-based integrated border management system, which will be incorporated by security agencies to stem the tide of smuggling across the borders. ,

How powerful forces tried to stop Tinubu candidacy – APC vice chair


Jump king! Osimhen breaks Ronaldo’s Serie A record


Earthquake: Nigerian students in Turkey recount experiences, freshers undergo trauma treatment


Naira crisis may disrupt polls, INEC warns Emefiele, NSA


Ogun, Ondo, Edo protesters storm banks, demand cash


Fuel price to skyrocket as marketers threaten shutdown


Villa drama: Cabal plots to stop Tinubu, APC candidate, govs allege sabotage


ICPC discovers N258m hidden in bank’s vault, arrests managers


Sanwo-Olu condoles with Funke Akindele on mother’s death


More like this