Nuhu Apang Takum is the Kaduna State Comptroller, Immigration Service. In this interview with GABRIEL JOHN, he expresses confidence in the ability of Comptroller-General of Immigration, Mr. David S. Parradang, and said he is very much supportive in the supply of logistics to Kaduna Command. Excerpts…
What is your experience as the Comptroller, Immigration Service, Kaduna State Command?
Immigration Service personnel in Kaduna State work round the clock, that is 24 hours every day. As a para-military security outfit, the primary responsibility of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) is to monitor and control the movement of both Nigerians and non-Nigerians, both at home and globally. Everyone in this category falls within the purview of the Nigeria Immigration Service. That is to say that NIS takes charge of the movement of people within and around the country. In Kaduna, we monitor all these people. You are all aware that Kaduna being the central part of the North (between the North and the South) we in Kaduna are at the receiving end. We are at the receiving centre. Migrants from the extreme north, pass through Kaduna to the southern part of the country. Migrants from the northern part like Kano pass through to the Southern contiguous countries like Benin Republic, Togo and Ghana. NIS Kaduna State Command by and large encounters aliens from neighbouring countries like Chad, Niger, Mali etc. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) protocol allows movement within the sub-regions, within Nigeria borders under the purview of the law. Therefore, not all of them that migrated into this country irregularly did so. Much as there are illegal migrants among them, there are some good numbers that came in legally. Intellectually, you will see most of the migrants hawking water in trucks. They move about selling water to Nigerians. These are casual migrants. This period, rains have set in, including in their countries. Most of them are now going back to their countries to engage in farming. A good number of them while in Nigeria, do not only hawk water, they engage in other domestic odd jobs. As an agent that is responsible for their movement, from the experience and the report we have had so far, most people in Kaduna State experience mass cases of theft. These migrants living with them sometimes cart away their belongings including money. These people should know that the migrants came looking for means of survival, stay for a little while, and go back to their respective countries. In most cases, when victims come to report, we don’t do much because they did not consult the Immigration personnel in the state before engaging them in domestic work. They should involve the Immigration Service when engaging them. All Nigerians, especially the people of Kaduna State, should be watchful of the migrants so that they don’t fall victims of their nefarious activities.
Recently, it was reported that NIS Kaduna State Command, repatriated many illegal immigrants. How did you identify them?
We identified them through our professional training. As a professional Journalist, for example, you know your onions. We specifically trained to identify citizens of countries. For example, if a Nigerian is standing with a Ghanaian, an ordinary person cannot identify them. He may probably say they are all Nigerians. But Immigration personnel can easily identify a Ghanaian between the two. We were trained in special way that we can identify a non-Nigerian. There are peculiar professional instruments that we use to identify them. It is not all the migrants in Nigeria that are irregular. Many of them came into the country legally. Those that came illegally, we know where to locate them, we know where they are. We also work through some instruments on ground. We encourage forming associations headed by their citizens. We have association of Nigerien in Kaduna, we have association of Malians in Kaduna, we have association of Ghanaians. These associations have their leaders and it is these leaders that we work in synergy with. We partner with them. They also help us in some peculiar cases to identify these people and get them out of the country.
In view of the war against illegal migrants in the state which began last year, do you think we still have them in our midst?
I did say that rainy season has set in; most of them are going back to their respective countries. We still have the regular ones. Those that came in through proper channel have something doing. You cannot see them moving on the streets anyhow. They face their jobs squarely. They are doing their legitimate jobs, contributing to the economy of Kaduna State. I can say that the number of illegal migrants is reducing.
What can you identify as the major challenges in your day-to-day activities in the state?
Challenges are everywhere. There is no society in that is free from challenges. There is no society that does not have logistics and needs. The needs are always there, they are already there and address. If you solve one challenge, another challenge will come up. So, the management of the Immigration Service under the Comptroller General is doing its best. The Comptroller-General of Immigration is doing his best to supply the necessary logistics. Also, I have been doing my best in Kaduna State to deliver on my mandate. Our duty is to deliver, we are working. We have signed to do the work patriotically. In most cases, we initiate. Where we lack logistics, we use our initiative and discretion to do the work. The way we solve the problem is what makes us good officers. We initiate, we create, we solve the problem and we report solutions to our superiors. But where it is beyond our control, we definitely report to them for assistance and collaborations.
Kaduna is said to be the centre of the North. Do you think you have enough officers and men to curtail the activities of illegal migrants in the state?
We are doing our best. Recently, the Federal Government, through Presidential Committee on Immigration Recruitment, began their work and recruitment is ongoing in various state commands, including Kaduna. Checking personnel is a normal thing. While some are ageing out of the job, the young ones are coming in. Presently, fresh officers are being inducted, parades are ongoing. Those were the people recruited by the presidential committee.
What message do you have for the people?
I plead with all residents of Kaduna State to cooperate with the government, put all sentiments aside and make Kaduna State a home to all. Kaduna belongs to Nigeria; Kaduna is the pride of the North. She is a pride of Nigeria. So, if Kaduna sneezes everywhere catches cold.