No fewer than 300 out of the 500 immigrants arrested by men of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) in Niger state have been declared illegal immigrants and would be deported from the country.
The remaining 200 immigrants are still being screened to certify the authenticity of the documents with which they gained entry into the country.
In a raid on the locations of the illegal immigrants in Minna Bida Kontagora Suleja and Paiko towns, the officials of the immigration service also discovered that those apprehended were not gainfully employed in any trade or business in the community in which they were staying.
Majority of them were from Niger republic and were involved in selling of water in jerry cans. They are popularly called ‘mairuwa ‘in the northern part of the country.
The Comptroller of Immigration in the state, Mr. David Adi who paraded the illegal immigrants before newsmen in Minna at the weekend explained that since those arrested were not gainfully employed they could become ‘security risks’ to their host communities.
Adi said some of those arrested misinterpreted the provisions of the ECOWAS protocol which stipulates that members of a community or a country can come into Nigeria at any time; forgetting that the law stipulates that they must have their traveling documents, and must come in through approved entry points; and that they must also have visible means of livelihood.
“But what we are seeing is that most of these people do not have traveling documents, some of them just hold nylon bags and come into the country. For goodness sake, if security is compromised how do we get such people?” Adi asked.
He said those to be repatriated would still have the opportunity to return to Nigeria but not until they have normalized their entry documents and ensured they have visible means of livelihood.