As part of the worldwide manhunt for suspected terrorists, the Nigerian Immigration Service has deployed an electronic device in the nation’s airports to identify, take a headcount of travellers and aid security agencies to arrest suspected terrorists.
The technology, known as Electronic Advance Passenger Information System, is a web-based application that facilitates the collection of electronic manifest information for international travellers, going into or travelling out of the country.
The NIS Public Relations Officer, Ekpedeme King, disclosed this to our correspondent in Abuja on Sunday while responding to enquires on efforts by the service to beef up security in the nation’s borders against the backdrop of the ISIS attacks on Paris on Friday, where no fewer than 128 people were killed.
The eAPIS, which collects and passes electronic manifests, has been in use at international airports in the United States since May, 2009, when all general aviation pilots, conducting international flights departing from or arriving to the United States, were requiries to provide passenger manifest and aircraft information to government agencies.
King told our correspondent on Sunday that the eAPIS would soon be extended to all the land borders across the nation, noting that the system had assisted the immigration service to have a record of people coming in and leaving the country.
He said, “The Nigerian Immigration Service has already deployed technology (in the airports) to prevent infiltration of foreign terrorists.
“We now use a system called Electronic Advance Passenger Information System which has been deployed in all our airports nationwide. We are working to extend the system to all land borders.
“For the illegal routes, especially in the northern part of the country, we have trained 4,000 officers in border patrol duties and 2,000 personnel of the border patrol corps working with the Department of State Services, have been deployed to patrol the illegal routes.”
Asked how many illegal immigrants had been arrested in recent times, King said he did not have the figures, but added that illegal migrants, entering the country through unapproved routes, were usually not allowed to enter the country.
“What we do is when you enter into the country illegally, through the unofficial routes, we send you back; we don’t allow you into the country, and we do this every day, but those that had entered the country through the regular routes without the necessary documentation are deported to their country,” he explained.
The NIS in September, 2015, arrested two accomplices of Ahmed Al Assir, the Lebanese terrorist, who obtained a Nigerian visa in Beruit, Lebanon.
The accomplices were apprehended in Kano and handed over to the National Security Adviser for further investigation.
Assir, who had been on the wanted list of the Lebanese security forces, was arrested at the airport while attempting to board a Cairo, Egypt-bound flight en route Nigeria with a forged Palestinian passport in August.
Assir became one of the most wanted men in Lebanon after his militia went to battle with the Lebanese army in the port city of Sidon in 2013, resulting in the death of 18 soldiers and dozens of his gunmen.
ISIS was reported to have mentioned Nigeria in one of the French attack tweets on Saturday.
The message read, “When you deploy forces in order to control the city of Saladin and dreaming of Mosul, Sinjar, Haul, Tikrit or Huwaijah or dreaming Mayadin or Jarablus or Karmah or Tel Abyad or Al Quaim or Darnah or dream to reclaim wilderness in the interior Nigeria or masters ‘Asy’asy Sinai desert sand, then surely we just want Rome and Paris Insyaallah before Andalusia.”
Also, Nigeria has been rated as the country most worried about the rise of ISIS, according to a chart compiled by Statista, an online statistic portal.
The data shows the countries most worried about the rise of the terror group, whose British militant member, Jihadi John, was believed to have been killed in a US air strike last week.
Police heighten security nationwide
The police and other security agencies have heightened security nationwide following the Friday’s terror attacks on Paris.
Our correspondent gathered that the Force Headquarters had directed zonal police formations and state commands to step up patrol of critical public infrastructure, including public places like shopping malls and worship centres.
It was learnt that the police leadership had instructed their personnel to focus more on intelligence-gathering in order to pre-empt terror plots and other criminal acts.
In the Federal Capital Territory, police patrol teams were observed on Saturday and Sunday at many parts of Abuja engaging in ‘stop and search’ of vehicles and motorists.
The Safer Highway patrol units were also observed along the Umaru Yar’Adua Expressway, Kubwa-Zuba Expressway, Nyanya-Keffi Expressway and other parts of the FCT carrying out random searches on vehicles.
Patrol teams from the FCT Police Command were also active at various street junctions, market areas, including Wuse and Garki Markets, AYA Roundabout and Area 1 Roundabout as well as at residential areas of the city.
The Force Public Relations Officer, Olabisi Kolawole, stated that the police had always been alert to their duty of protecting lives and property of the people, adding that the police had deployed personnel in critical areas across the country.
Kolawole added, “The police have deployed its personnel in critical areas in view of the security situation in the country. Our men and officers have been directed to secure critical public infrastructure, lives and property.
“The police are working with other security agencies to protect lives and property nationwide and we want to solicit the support of members of the public to give useful information to the nearest security agency.”
Meanwhile, security experts have said the world should expect more terror attacks that might be in the mould of the Paris carnage.
They observed that unless security agencies collaborated and strengthened their intelligence-gathering capabilities, terror groups like ISIS, Al-Qaeda and Boko Haram, would continue to beat security personnel to stage blood-curdling attacks on innocent citizens.
A former Director, Department of State Services, Mike Ejiofor, noted that what the ISIS terrorists did in Paris was not different from what Boko Haram had been doing in Nigeria.
Though Boko Haram had been weakened by the security agencies, the security expert said the sect had been attacking soft targets, stressing that the security forces must not relent in their bombardment of the violent sect.
He said, “It’s (Paris-type attack) been happening here; it calls for vigilance from everyone. Boko Haram has been doing exactly the same thing. The world must condemn it and work together to combat terrorism headlong, we should expect more of this attack globally.
“Though Boko Haram has been pushed to the fringes of Sambisa Forest, it is still carrying out attacks on soft targets; this calls for extra vigilance. People in crowded places need to be careful and security agencies must continue to degrade the capabilities of members of this group until they are vanquished.”
Another security analyst, Ben Okezie, stressed the importance of intelligence gathering to prevent the likes of Paris terror attacks from taking place in the country, adding that security agencies must continue to collaborate to frustrate terror plots.
Okezie stated, “The terrorists are always monitoring security agencies, they have done their research and they know where they want to attack. They monitor their targets and once the security agencies are not alert or distracted, the boys will strike; they don’t have any other job, all they are interested in is to create fear in the mind of the populace and kill the people.
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