The Chairman and Chief Executive of Sheiks and Bishops Ltd and an international Security Consultant, Sir Chikwe Udensi has spoken about the state of Nigerian border security and other national issues to some news men in his office. Excerpts:
May we meet you sir?
I am Sir Chikwe Udensi, the Chairman and CEO of Sheiks and Bishops Ltd.
Sir, can you tell us the role of Interpol in national security?
Interpol is international police organization with 192 member nation. Their role is to ensure that there is curtailment, if not total elimination of cross border crime.
How is Interpol concerned with Nigerian border security?
Our borders are extremely porous. I can give you figures. Interpol in the course of their investigation of the borders of the countries in Africa, the land borders, realized that Nigeria has about 6 main border posts, manned by the Nigerian Immigration and other agencies.
We have about 25 medium border posts and over 200 smaller borders posts. Unfortunately we realize that we have over 2000 illegal entries.
And surprisingly some of these illegal entries are just a few hundred yards away from the main posts.
The ones they call medium post is very laughable. It is unfortunate, it makes no sense of the internal security of this country. Some of them are just two empty drums with a bamboo stick across. It is so pathetic and very very laughable. These are our border posts. And not far from this, few hundred meters from these border posts you see in clear view illegal movement of people into the country (to and fro not just into the country), also to the other borders. On the right we have Cameroon, on the upper we have Niger Republic and also on the left we have Cotonou and other countries.
What is the concern of Interpol in this case?
This is what we have, this porosity create enormous concern. What it simply means is that there is free movement of people in and out of the country without restriction, in extreme positions. No restriction! That leaves a very sour test in the mouth of the security apparatus in the country. This is because we do not know how to effectively use the instrumentalities of the Interpol, to curtail such cross-border crime. That is where we are today. It is pathetic.
How do you intend to tackle these problems?
First and foremost we have to put the necessary border control mechanisms. There are border management systems we have around the world. Where you cannot put walls, you put censors and also check around those countries of the world that have vast borders. There are communities living very close to the borders. What can these communities do? To create comfort for those who are going to work – the law enforcement working in those areas. If the movement of an individual from the border post to the next town is over 3 – 40 miles, sometimes 100 miles; how do we guarantee the movement of people to work? Are they not entitled to get back to their homes? But if it is within the periphery of the border post, then you suggest that it will create activity on the border post.
However, it creates easy security. That is the first and foremost. The next one is putting the tools for border management. When we go around the world for conferences and seminars we see the kind of apparatus border controls of the worlds have to manage their boarders. Then we look back to what we have in Nigeria. It is unfortunate. The tools are not there, we need to put the tools. There are two major tools required for this. One is the physical barricade of the border, the other one is the censor barricade. It is called perimeter fencing. We can use electronics to fence your location. If there is any movement, if there is any interaction with the barricade it sends a signal to the command and control. We neither have barricade nor do we have censors. The borders are simply open. That is where we are and that is unfortunate.
What is the role of Immigration in the whole set up?
Border control is for immigration. Around the world they are called the border police. It is the job of immigration, no other agency.
What is government doing to curb the menace?
That is where people like us come in – system consultants. We are consultants, our job is to facilitate synergy between these agencies and government to ensure the job is properly done. But we are talking to deaf people in Nigeria. Those who are in government are deaf and dump. It is either they are deliberately wicked to the country or they don’t know their jobs. We have sounded this over and over; the need for us to have some proper border management system and control but each government pays lip service to it. Also if you go to the office of immigration right now, you will see over 5000 people walking around the whole place.
Go and check out and come back and report. Go and check out yourself. Their actual job should be border management. So it is over the land, the sea or the air borders. Even at those ones, they have to ensure proper presence, armed presence to ensure security of the borders in the country. Like now, that has not happened.
Where do we have the worst case scenario?
The movement from the right which is the Bakassi area, from the extreme of it is Niger. The flow is equidistance, it is about the same.
You already asked where the more dangerous ones come. The more dangerous ones are coming from the Niger area, because of the militancy. You know that most of the Boko Haram and all those extremists come from that part of the border. The other one from the right side are business people who are smuggling goods and services – they are equally dangerous because they have the capacity and capability of smuggling weapons; because they are business men. There are enormous amount of illegal arms and ammunition in the country today. Enormous amount, in fact they are being sold openly, like you know. If you want 2000 of it today, someone supplies it to you. The internal security of the country remains in jeopardy. And if you ask me, we are sitting on a keg of gun powder. It will soon explode. I think the government should learn the experiences of other countries of the world. We can take proactive measures; it is no more proactive it is reactive by now, because what is happening cannot be proactive.
Thanks for your time.
You are welcome.