The Nigerian Navy has stressed the need for migrants to obtain the relevant travel documents to avoid arrest.
The Flag Officer Commanding the Eastern Naval Command, Rear Admiral Atiku Abdulkadir made the remark in Calabar, Cross River State, Southern Nigeria, after parading twenty-two persons for lack of legal immigration papers.
Rear Admiral Abdulkadir said it has become imperative to orientate Nigerians, particularly those residing along the nation’s international borders, to apply for proper travel papers before leaving the country.
Abdulkadir said only one out of the 22 persons, who were apprehended by Nigerian Navy Ship, NNS Makurdi, a navy patrol boat along the creeks of Calabar, had a passport for identification.
Rear Admiral Abdulkadir stressed the need for agencies of the Nigerian government to embark on advocacies and enlightenment of citizens on the application process for legal travel documents.
“Our patrol vessel NNS Makurdi arrested two Cotonu Boats with goods and a handful of passengers. There are 8 Cameroonians and 14 Nigerians. Like we all know, there are security concerns in our country and we just see these number of people and only one person, a Cameroonian has a passport on him for identification. The rest have none whatsoever,” he stated.
Rear Admiral Abdulkadir remarked that, “We are going to investigate them and after, we hand them over to the appropriate authorities for further investigation. If they are found culpable, they are remanded, if not they will be allowed to go free.”
According to him, “we have to do a lot of enlightenment for our people. It does appear as if some are not even conscious of the fact that crossing the border, even if it is from one village to the other, might require some documentation. They just take it for granted. Some might be ignorant, but it is not an excuse. They have no document, but we are actually looking out for those with criminal inclinations.”
Also seized from the migrants were 671 bags of polished rice smuggled in through the hull of the Cotonu boats.
The Naval Commander said the navy patrol personnel accosted the migrants, while they were attempting to channel the boats to one of the creeks in Calabar, in the covers of the night and the vast mangrove forest.
“The two boats are carrying over a trailer load of rice. From investigation, the goods are by-passing the authorities to the market. This calls for our continued presence at sea and our waterways. We will also improve on our intelligence network, so that we know even before they (smugglers and illegal migrants) take off from their base,” he stated.
The 22 migrants, who departed Idenua along the coast of Southern Cameroun, also included a female from Cameroun.