The Nigeria Immigration Service boss made the statement in Abuja.
The Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Rose Uzoma, has suggested the use of Unmanned Aerial Aircraft (UAVs), known as drones, for effective border patrol in the country.
Ms. Uzoma told a forum of the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja, that “thousands of unmanned border areas” in the country had continued to pose a major security challenge to Nigeria.
She said that the use of UAVs had become more “desirable ” especially now, to secure the country’s “porous borders”.
The comptroller-general said that the Federal Government could acquire such drones through public private partnership.
“Talking about what we are doing about porous borders, I think these Unmanned Aerial Aircraft (UAVs) would be very good because nobody can see it and easily shoot it down.
“It will be recording visual movements and we will be able receive it here at our headquarters because the peculiar nature of our borders really pose a big challenge, because there is no clear cut buffer zone in the case of Nigeria.,” she said.
The Comptroller General also narrated some of the difficulties that make manning Nigerian borders challenging.
“You have some Niger villages located right within the Nigeria geographical zone and you have some Nigerian villages located in Niger or Cameroon and what have you.
“All of you know what happens at our Seme border where our control post is located in the Benin territory and our officers are handicapped. Because if you want to stop somebody from crossing he will say I am still in my country; we have these problems,” she said.
The immigration chief said that at present the service had two aircrafts, including a troop carrier, and that the “main aircraft”, was currently being fitted with special equipment.
She recalled that the Federal Executive Council had awarded a contract of N350 million for the installation of special equipment on the main aircraft.
“The contract has not been fully executed; that is why the aircraft is still grounded,” she said.
On plans to improve border security in 2013, she said that the service would acquire more patrol vehicles.
“If you are patrolling hundreds of kilometres to make sure that nobody takes the illegal routes, you need to have more than one vehicle. In a state like Adamawa, we only have one border patrol vehicle, but in 2013, we have made provision for more vehicles,” she said.
The immigration boss expressed concern over what she called “normal envelope budget system’’, and said that allocations to the Immigration Service were not enough to meet logistics and personnel requirements. She, therefore, called for more budgetary allocation to the service to enable it to perform its duties more effectively.
Highlighting some of her achievements since she assumed duty in August 2010, Ms. Uzoma said much had been done to improve border security, reduce human trafficking, and protect the travel rights of Nigerians abroad.
On border security, the NIS chief said that she had ensured the setting up of a special elite team known as the “Strike Force” to undertake special operations. She said the team would be strengthened in 2013 to enable it undertake more special operations.
She commended the team for intervening in several situations, where the routine immigration officers needed reinforcement.
The comptroller-general said that at least four million e-passports had been issued to Nigerians since biometric passport was introduced in 2007. She also said that 70,000 Nigerians in the Diaspora were also issued with e-passports in foreign missions as a result of NIS-led intervention in 64 countries.