Abuja - The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) on Thursday urged the Federal Ministry of Health to provide its personnel at the borders with equipment to check health status of immigrants into the country.
Emeka Obua, the Public Relations Officer of the service, made the call in an interview with the media in Abuja.
“Everything concerning Ebola or any health issue is not the primary responsibility of the Immigration Service.”
“The Comptroller-General of the service cannot go out of his way and above the supervising Ministry of Interior and the ministry of health to buy equipment to be used at the borders.”
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“It is only the equipment provided by the ministry of health that officials from NIS and port health services at land borders, air and sea ports can use to check immigrants coming in and out of the country,” he said.
Obua, who expressed concern over the way Nigerians were treated in foreign countries because of spread of the disease to Nigeria, said the virus had become a world phenomenon.
He explained that the primary duty of the service was to ensure that all immigrants coming in and out of the country had valid travel documents.
“The responsibility of the ministry of health cannot be placed on NIS because its duty is to protect the borders.”
“We also know where the disease is coming from; it is a West African thing and it came through the tropics not through the Savannah or Sahara,” said the spokesman.
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Obua said that due to shortage of personnel to man the borders, the service was making a proposal to the Federal Government to recruit more personnel.
“For the next three to four years, government needs to employ 5 000 women and men every year, due to the expansive size of Nigeria’s border, there is inadequate manpower to effectively police the borders.”
“Over 1,000 officers of the service have been specially trained and deployed to man the borders and this trend needs to continue for the next five years if we are to effectively protect the borders,” he said.
The media learnt that people still move in and out of the country through the Seme border without being properly checked by the NIS and port health service personnel.
The investigation reveals that there are no emergency facilities at the border to handle Ebola virus screening by the port health services.
Officials of the service who spoke on condition of anonymity said that they have informed the relevant authority to provide the equipment.