Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Muhammed Babandede has said the service can not totally eliminate human trafficking and human smuggling across the country’s international borders.
Mr Babandede who appeared on ARISE News said when the borders were entirely closed, opportunities were open for human smugglers and human traffickers.
“We can not eliminate a crime,” Babandede told ARISE News when asked about bringing human trafficking along the borders under control. “I am aware that when the borders were closed, human beings once there is restriction people always look for another opportunity, it’s common globally.
“We are not only talking about human trafficking but also we are talking about human smuggling,” he added. He further stated that “when the borders were entirely closed, opportunities were open for human traffickers and human smugglers. Traffickers are people who take people across the border for exploitative purpose, but those who smuggle persons are trying to move people across the borders to make sure they are not detected.
“When our borders were closed, Benin had offered a lot of opportunities for international airlines to land in Benin republic and we as immigration cannot refuse our citizens from entering Nigeria. So even when the borders were closed we had not given opportunities to restrict Nigerian because nobody can refuse a Nigerian from entering the country but we can refuse from departing because the borders were closed.
The NIS boss noted that the opening of the border has provided the service with clear opportunities to check smuggling in persons and said he has also issued a warning to officers of the service who exploit citizens to desist from it.
“As far as I am concerned its a great opportunity to reduce trafficking and exploitation of people because there is now a corridor to pass which exploiters cannot use.
“Travel document is a big issue in Africa, Nigeria is sometimes much easier even though we receive a lot of criticism. Our neighbours find it difficult to issue travel document to their citizens, so they may not be able to present before the immigration officer, so exploitation becomes an opportunity.
“But we will continue to do our best to make sure people are not exploited. I have given warning to our officers, I have issued several press releases as a service that there is no money to be paid to cross our borders, the entry and exit is free and any officer caught will be dealt with and we have been dealing with people,” Babandede said.
By Abel Ejikeme