Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel has charged operatives of the Nigeria Immigration Service, to adopt new approaches and be proactive and diligent to avoid admitting into the country visitors with evil designs.
According to him, seemingly innocent visitors they unwittingly passed into the country could be part of a terrorist sleeper cell in today’s world of asymmetric security situation.
Speaking on Thursday in Uyo while declaring open a Stakeholders’ Sensitization programme on the Nigeria Visa Policy Document (NVP 2020) organised by the Nigeria Immigration Service Akwa Ibom State Command, Emmanuel said a robust and proactive Immigration Service can be used to forestall terrorist attacks.
Represented by his deputy, Mr Moses Ekpo, Governor Emmanuel urged NIS to take a cue from the Unites States, which have made Immigration Service part of their Department of Homeland Affairs to prevent a repeat of the September 11, 2001 terrorists attack.
“The Nigeria Immigration Service is a critical member of the Nigerian Security architecture. In most of the advanced world, it is part of the first line of national defence, given the critical role it plays in admitting visitors through various ports of entries in those nations.
“In today’s world of asymmetric security situations, the seemingly innocent visitor you may have admitted into your country may be part of a terrorist sleeper cell. Such a visitor may have been sent by his or her sponsors with the expressed and evil command to cause a breach of public peace through acts of terrorism.
“The need therefore, for the Immigration Service to meet regularly, explore new approaches of protecting the nation, and thinking, anticipating and disrupting such evil designs has become even more urgent and imperative” Emmanuel said
He commended the collaboration of security agencies in the state saying the peace enjoyed in Akwa Ibom was due to to unity and networking between the security agencies in the state.
Addressing the sensitization meeting, the Acting Comptroller-General of NIS, Isah Jere Idris, described visa as one of the strongest instruments used by nations to control the entry and exit of migrants into their territories; and used to spur economic development, enhance global relationships and promote peace and security.
“The Nigeria Visa Policy (NVP 2020) is an ambitious document that would drastically transform the economy of our country. In the document, we have expanded Visa classes from mere six to 79 classes in three new categories of Short Visit Visa (28 classes), Temporary Residence Visa (36 classes) and Permanent Residence Visa (15 classes).
“The major highlight of the document is that we now have Visa classes for every conceivable purpose of travel unlike before when we issue only business or work Visa to anyone desirous of coming into the country”, the comptroller general said.
Idris represented by the Zonal Coordinator Zone E, Owerri, Mrs. E C Ejiogu said Akwa Ibom is currently one of the most business-friendly states in Nigeria today hence being rated the Second Best State in the attraction of Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) rating after Lagos.
While thanking the governor and his team for the attraction of Foreign Direct investments, Idris said he was proud of the efforts of the state in other sectors of the economy.
“Akwa Ibom State has the longest and largest coastline in the country. Its coastline measures about 129 kilometres. The aquatic resources are massive just as the need to emplace deliberate maritime security structure for effective protection is imperative.”
Earlier, the Comptroller of immigration Service, Akwa Ibom State, George Chamlong Didel on his part declared Akwa Ibom is the second most business friendly states in Nigeria, after Lagos.
He however bemoaned the high rate of human trafficking and crime of harvesting human parts in the state and pledged to redouble efforts to tackle illegal migration in the state.
“A lot of people do not know of ECOWAS passport which could help you travel round West African Countries. It is most convenient to acquire because you can get in within few hours. You don’t have to wait for the standard Nigerian Passport which may take a minimum of three weeks for renewal and six weeks for new one.”