BusinessDay
NigeriaDecides2023

Influx of strangers into southern Nigeria

Influx of strangers into southern Nigeria

The southern Nigerian states have seen an influx of strangers in recent months, and this is causing a disquiet among the people residing in that part of the country. Most people in the affected states have expressed their displeasure, especially at a time of rising insecurity that has been acknowledged by the Nigerian security apparatuses most of whom recently sounded a note of warning that states such as Lagos, Katsina, Kaduna, and the Federal Capital Territory Abuja had been listed as the likely next places these dare-devil terrorists could strike.

These terrorists are not leaving anyone in doubt as to the extent of havoc they could wreck. In July, these agents of darkness unleashed terror on Abuja and its environs when they attacked the 7 Guards Battalion of the Nigerian Army Presidential Guards Brigade, and in the process, Nigeria lost eight soldiers.

Before the Abuja attack, these terrorists launched a fiery attack on the presidential convoy in Dutsinma, Katsina State, the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari. When they failed to harm him, these terrorists boasted they would kidnap the President and Commander in Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, and Nasir el-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna State.

These are people that move about under the pretence of looking for greener pastures in the southern parts of the country

The attack in Abuja the penultimate week sent chills down the spines of many Abuja residents, and it came at a great cost to the nation. This is because, fearing that primary and secondary school pupils could be kidnapped in a gestapo manner, many private and public schools were shut down for days.

It is also on record that in early August, the Department of State Security Service arrested a Boko Haram commander in Ogun State, who came to the southwest purposely to set up a kidnapping cell. These are people that move about under the pretense of looking for greener pastures in the southern parts of the country.

The insecurity challenge that the Nigerian federation faces, especially the people in the southern part, has called for vigilance and enhanced collaboration among the Nigerian security apparatuses and regional militia such as Amotekun, the O’odua People Congress (OPC) and Farmers Associations popularly called Agbekoyas.

The manner in which people come to the southern part of this country makes everyone now a suspect. In the last few weeks, we have been regaled with people coming into southern Nigeria hidden among bags of maize and beans, animal feeds, among others, disguising in different manners.

Read also: What Nigeria must do to check insecurity before 2023 polls – Bode George

Majority of arrests have been made in Ondo, Ekiti, Oyo and Osun states, and were all allowed to proceed on their journeys. While admitting that the freedom of movement is everyone’s right, the questions that beg for answers are why are these people hiding among animals and food sacks if their motives are genuine? Why are some of these people unable to speak the Nigerian Hausa version prevalent in the northern part of the country? Some of them have been found not to be indigenes of this country, how did they all come in?

Unemployment is still very high in Nigeria, at 33.3 percent. What unique skills are these people bringing into Nigeria, especially the southern part of the country, that the indigenes do not have? Therefore, what special value are they bringing on board?

Our position should not be misconstrued as we are in full support of the freedom of movement of labour, goods and services. However, there are legitimate ways such movements should be done and it should be towards destinations that these travellers will eventually add value.

The state of the nation now demands that the movement of strange faces should be well monitored. Many kidnap victims who shared their harrowing experiences did allude to foreign origins of some of these kidnappers. Nigerians cannot continue to suffer in their lands from the horror inflicted on them by foreigners and their local collaborators.

According to a recent report by SBM Intelligence, Nigerians who were victims of kidnapping paid a whopping N653.7 million as ransoms between July 2021 and June 2022. About 500 kidnapping cases were recorded involving 3,420 people out of which 564 individuals were killed in the process.

One of the ways to monitor the influx of strangers in our midst is for each state to have the biodata and socioeconomic data of everyone residing in every state in Nigeria. It is due to lack of adequate records on individuals that create the lacuna that terrorists exploit to the detriment of Nigerians and Nigeria.

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