Published February 15, 2021
Friday Olokor , Adelani Adepegba , Dennis Naku , Raphael Ede and Godwin Isenyo
The Nigeria Immigration Service on Sunday said there were no armed herdsmen in the country .
The NIS spokesman, Sunday James , who stated this in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja , also said there had been tight security at borders since the introduction of the Migration Information and Data Analysis Systems .
Recall that the Federal Government had in November 2019 installed the MIDAS, a border management technology at three international airports , 14 land and two sea borders to check irregular migration, human trafficking and other cross -border crimes.
The MIDAS systems were installed at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport , Ikeja , Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport , Kano .
The NIS has also established 15 Forward Operation bases to patrol the land borders and check irregular migration.
In the interview with one of our correspondents , James was asked what the NIS was doing about armed herdsmen, whom many governors, including Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State , had alleged were involved in killings and kidnappings .
He was also asked what the service was doing to flush them out since they were illegal immigrants .
In their separate reactions , groups including the Christian Association of Nigeria , the Yoruba socio -political group , Afenifere , the Pan- Niger Delta Forum and Ohanaeze Ndigbo berated the service .
The NIS ’ stand on armed herders came three days after the Bauchi State Governor , Bala Muhammed , said herdsmen was carrying AK 47 for self -defence.
In his response to The PUNCH ’s enquiries , James stated that the Comptroller – General of Immigration , Muhammad Babandede , just returned from an official tour of Adamawa State , noting that “ no armed herdsman was seen during the over 57 km drive near the borders .”
He added , “ No single person was seen with arms contrary to what is published in the newspapers . No single individual can tell you where he has seen a herdsman with rifle. ”
When told about the attacks on farmers in Ibarapa, Oyo State by suspected armed herdsmen, James said, “ Ibadan ( Ibarapa) is a different issue ; I ’m not in Ibadan , I’ m in Abuja .”
When informed that farmers in many parts of states including Ogun , Niger and Edo had stopped going to the farms due to incessant attacks by armed herdsmen, the NIS spokesman retorted , “ You are mentioning locations that there are no proofs. Do you have any location where somebody gives you a proof of an armed herdsman ?
“ I am telling you there are no armed herdsmen in Nigeria. Since the introduction of the MIDAS ( Migration Information and Data Analysis System ) and Operation Swift Response in conjunction with the military and Customs , there has been airtight security at the borders.
“ Since the borders were shut , Nigerians have been complaining about access at the borders and even as at now , you cannot travel through the borders without travelling through the roads.
“ Nigeria Immigration Service is not sleeping . We have not seen any single foreign herdsman carrying arms; those we see are local herdsmen who don ’ t carry arms .”
There is a plot to confuse Nigerians – Afenifere
In his reaction to the NIS ’ claim , the National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere , Yinka Odumakin, said the service was lying , adding , “ There is hardly any part of Nigeria you can drive a kilometre in the country today without seeing armed herdsmen.
“ It is clear there is a grand design to confuse the polity with false narratives . There is no truth in the NIS comment .”
Comment by NIS mischievous , blatant lie , says PANDEF
On its part , PANDEF described the NIS ’ claim as a blatant lie and mischievous.
PANDEF spokesman, Ken Robinson , who stated this during a chat with one of our correspondents , on Sunday , said it was better to ignore such ignorant remarks which he said was tantamount to playing on the sensibilities of Nigerians .
“ When people very clearly are being mischievous and try to play on the sensibilities of Nigerians , the best treatment to give to such people for their ignorance is to ignore them . Silence is the best answer to a fool . It is ridiculous for anybody to say that.
“ It is a blatant lie and it is better to ignore him because he is just being mischievous, ” the PANDEF spokesman stated .
Ohanaeze faults NIS , says statement contradictory
Also, the Igbo apex socio -cultural organization , Ohanaeze Ndigbo faulted the NIS for absorbing herdsmen and denying that there were no armed herdsmen in the country .
Ohanaeze spokesman, Chief Alex Ogbonnia, who spoke to one of our correspondents , said that it was self -evident when the Presidency told Nigerians that people carrying out criminal atrocities which included the killing of farmers and raping of women across the country were foreign herders.
“ Just about three days ago , Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed , justified the need for herdsmen to carry arms . Secondly , when you said no foreign herdsmen, the Presidency affirmed that the herdsmen terrorising this country were foreign herdsmen that they were not Nigerians . That is for the Presidency .
The Christian Association of Nigeria on Sunday faulted the claim by the NIS .
CAN warned that the way and manner government spokesperson and public relations officers of many paratatals came out to twist facts in the country would only make Nigerians to think governance was all about lying .
The Chairman of CAN in Kaduna State and its National Vice Chairman ( 19 Northern States and Abuja ) , Rev . Joseph John Hayab , said these in an interview with The PUNCH .
Hayab said , “ You need not lie just to protect your boss or present your agency in good light . By telling lies you make our country and your agency a total failure. Almost in every state in North West Nigeria , herdsmen are seen with AK -47 and they have killed and maimed people the same way they have been doing in North East and almost in all parts of Nigeria. Why should a public servant lie about what is seen everywhere ?
NIS CG owes Nigerians explanations about porous borders – NSCIA spokesman
The Head ( Media Committee ) of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Femi Abbas , speaking for himself, blamed the NIS , with a challenge on its leadership to offer “ a deep explanation about the porousness of the country ’s land borders. ”
He said, “ This response is from me as Femi Abbas and not on behalf of any organisation . I think the Comptroller -General of Nigerian Immigration ( Service ) has more clarification to make on the statement credited to him , if he truly made that statement .
“ Actually , as the man in charge of the nation ’ s immigration, he owes Nigeria a deep explanation about the porousness of the country ’s land borders. In my own view and belief , the worst insecurity problem facing Nigeria today is from immigration sector .
“ If immigration is sanitised , Nigeria ’s sanity will return security wise. Right now , Nigeria is like a country without immigration law . ”
ACF won’ t support herders carrying AK 47 – ACF
The pan -northern socio -political organisation , Arewa Consultative Forum on Sunday , said it would not support any herder or any individual carrying AK 47 .
The National Publicity Secretary of the Northern body , Emmanuel Yawe, said this an interview with one of our correspondents in interview in Kaduna on Sunday .
Yawe said those breaking the law when caught were on their own .
According to the ACF spokesman, whether the AK 47 is for self – defence or not, the ACF will not support any thing that is against the law .
He said, “ It is against Nigerian law for private citizens to carry such weapons as AK 47 .
“ Whether for self – defence or not, the ACF will not support any thing that is against the law .
“ Those breaking the law should know that if they are caught, they are on their own . They do not have our support . ”
Commenting on the call for amnesty for bandits , the Spokesperson for Northern Elders Forum, Dr Hakeem Baba -Ahmed , said government should explore all options , adding that there should be a national consensus .
He said , “ All crimes are a national problem , and they must be treated in accordance with our laws. The nation will benefit from a deeper understanding of the complex issues that are manifested in part by the criminal Fulani and the hysteria being generated against ethnic groups.
“ There should be credible options in dealing with armed criminals . But these options must be contingent on their capacities to solve problems and being legal . Amnesty is one option which worked in the Niger Delta, but it was an option that lent itself because it was the best for the whole country , not a favour to Niger Delta communities .
“ At this stage , all options should be in the table , and we need a national consensus on what is best for the country . ”
He also stated that all bandits should be disarmed . He stated , “ Disarming all Nigerians is now a critical security requirement . The same way that stopping communities from adopting do -it -yourself strategies for protecting themselves is .”