When the last 2022 flood disaster consumed the lives and livelihood of Bayelsa and the people, many Government buildings and institutions were affected and work stopped for the three weeks that it lasted. But at the Bayelsa State Command of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), the case was different as the leadership under the leadership of Comptroller Sunday James showed signs of foresight and needed capacity, personnel confidence building to salvage the office building and ensure the operations of the Service to the people is not disrupted.
With Flood submerging the operational headquarters along the Bayelsa Palm road in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa capital, the State Comptroller, Sunday James saved the over 64 personnel affected and ensure that they are taking care of the operations go on smoothly. The displaced Personnel had cause to rejoice and the post flood operations of the command has witnessed improved beautification and transformation.
The Comptroller of NIS in Bayelsa, Sunday James, who confirmed the development while conducting newsmen around the office headquarters, however said the command was prepared and all necessary documents are safe and office operations not disturbed as they relocated to the Okaka area for smooth operations of the command.
Comptroller James also pointed the 64 impacted personnel of the Command have been taken care of by the command, saying that the national headquarters of the command have agreed to assist in embarking on the infrastructural upgrade of the office headquarters in the state.
He said though the Bayelsa flood is a natural occurrence which is expected to open a new chapter for the people and state,” Inspite of the flood, no personnel of the NIS stayed away from his or her duty post. All through the flood, every officers of the command were on ground as essential duty workers”.
He said the assets and documents of the command was salvaged due to quick preparedness, “I had the instinct and few days before the flood, I moved away everything from the office. Documents intact. Assets Intact”. He also said the command is prepared to return to its office headquarters once the flood recedes and that every personnel in the command are ready to continue giving uninterrupted service in the state, “As the water is receding, we are pushing”.
Comptroller Sunday James, who also visited the passport office located at the Road Safety road area of the state capital, caught some officers unprepared for his visit and warned that any personnel caught not at his duty post would be summarily dismissed,” we came here without telling them we were coming and they were not prepared. It is impromptu. We assessed their working operation and also give directive that for no reason should anyone wait unnecessarily without being attended to by personnel.”
Mr James Sunday, who is comptroller, is bent on transforming the command in terms of quality delivery of service and sustain the improved relationship between the Personnel of the Nigerian Immigration Service and other sister security agencies, the civil populace and the Bayelsa state Government. From the records available, the desired reforms in the NIS,Bayelsa command has endeared the people to the command.
Since his assumption of office in February 6, 2022, and induction into the State Security council, Comptroller Sunday James, have left none in doubt about his intention at transforming the Nigerian Immigration Service to meet the the standard set up by the Service under the leadership of Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, and that of the Comptroller of Immigration Service, Mr. Isah Jere Idris.
He has interacted with the sister agencies in the state and ensured that the key stakeholders including the Brigade Commander 16th Brigade , Brigadier -General Yakassa , informing that their meeting would cement existing relationship and bridge the gap in intelligence gathering and sharing, joint operation where necessary and other national duty ,where the NIS Bayelsa State Command would have course to work side by side the Brigade.
The Brigade Commander, who did not waste time in appreciating the initiative and leadership skills exhibited by the Comptroller of NIS in the state in the on- going Operation Flush out of Irregular Migrants in Bayelsa State, which according him has reshaped the security architecture of the state with respect to removing elements that would have constituted security menace and concern due to their diverse and several involvements in unregistered businesses.
He hinted that usually undocumented migrants often go unnoticed and should there be any crime involving any of such elements, they would disappear without a trace.
In one of its operations, the Operatives of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) in Bayelsa State led by Comptroller Sunday James tagged “Saukan Shaho” in the state, they apprehended a total of 644 illegal migrants in the state.
According to the NIS, the special operation Saukan Shaho meaning the ‘Eagle has landed‘, which was sanctioned by the Comptroller-General, Isah Jere Idris and supported by the State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, led to the arrest of 44 Nigeriens, 35 togolese, 20 Beninese and 6 ghanians.
The NIS Comptroller of the Bayelsa Command, Sunday James, who declared that the operations followed the laid down acceptable ECOWAS protocol and United Nation rules of engagement and respect to Human rights, said the operation however led to the proper documentations of illegal migrants and migrants in the state with 89 expired travelled documents renewed by the arrested illegal migrants,” the other illegal immigrants have been guaranteed by their home countries of quick documentations. And the data base of the NIS is more robust from the operation.”
He commended Governor Douye Diri for his support and understanding that the operation was in the national interest and not targeted at any individual or tribe. He also explained that the command had to meet with the leaders of the Hausa community in the state to explain the purpose of the operation and not targeted at Nigerians.
The exercise, the Bayelsa NIS Comptroller, said has taken care of such fear as ,”everyone apprehended is interviewed, documented and those with genuine cases are treated on merit while those with high degree default are penciled for easing out through an approved entry points closest to where they came into the country from and where they entered through an approved entry point. They are to pass through same route after documentation at the point of exit.”
This exercise, he reiterated was a routine one and that the command hoped to keep the tempo of checking out for the irregular migrants on a continuous basis until the state is rid of such.
He said that every non-Nigerian must play by the rule of law governing their legal stay as regular migrants to perform their legitimate businesses and reside as registered migrants on the e- migrants’ platform of the NIS Bayelsa State.
As a man noted for foresight and adequate plan ahead, Comptroler Sunday James has met with the leaders of Migrant communities in the state over their roles ahead of the general elections in 2023. James, during the meeting with Leaders of Nigerienne, Beninoise, Togolese,Ghanian and Malian Communities in the State warned against possession of valid voters card and involvement in acts capable of disrupting the country’s general elections
This meeting like many others was ordered by the Comptroller-General , Isah Jere Idris for all State Command of the NIS to upscale surveillance and spot checks on Non Nigerians in preparation for the 2023 elections, warning that Non-Nigerians should not be allowed to vote and neither are they to be voted for. Idris also ordered that the non-Nigerians are not to be found in possession of voters’ card or other election related materials to safe guard the integrity and sovereignty of the Nation.
Also discovered by the NIS, due to credible intelligence, is the alarming increase in the use of the Ecowas Travel Certificate ( ETC) by suspected human traffickers to transport u aged persons outside the country.
According to the NIS, data check and analysis showed that there is a sudden and worrisome increase in the rate at which young people patronized the ECOWAS Travel Certificate, which has led to the rescue of two persons by denying them the facility and denying several others without genuine reasons after due diligent interrogation.
Comptroller, Sunday James, pointed out that the Service, after due risk analysis and a checklist of the age group that goes for it, the reasons given for the travel and countries where the holders of the document frequent, “it was on this ground that the unit directly responsible for the issuance, ECOWAS Unit was tasked to add additional security document to the requirement, call the Suspicious Travel Interrogation Form which was zero down to any suspected case.”
“It has yielded result. So far, it has helped in rescuing two (2) victims by denying them the facility and denying several others without genuine reasons after due diligent interrogation, in one of the cases the trafficker who is at large after the victim was stopped prompted our alert system.”
He also pointed out that In line with the directive of the Comptroller General of Immigration Service Isa Jere Idris, to all heads of Commands and special formations of the Service towards the end of the year to ensure water tight border control and management, “.A victim by name Miss Maureen Ekpe was stopped and denied facility after thorough investigation, while the purported trafficker is at large, victim was released to her family with warning.”
The Bayelsa state Command headed by Comptroller James Sunday, PCC in a proactive and improved investigative strategy has uncovered the newly adopted ways used by Human Traffickers to evade security checks and avoid suspicion by using the Ecowas Travel Certificate ( ETC) as a travel document to transport their victims to any of the ECOWAS Member States to evade stringent checks at the airport and lower the level of suspicion in view of the limitation of countries the document is valid for travel .
He also assured that the Bayelsa Command will not rest on its oars, until the syndicates are exposed and the only well justified, authentic trips without any link to Trafficking in Persons (TIPs) or Smuggling of Migrants (SOM) is established through the use of our interrogative process and vital intelligence tools to fight the menace.
According to him, the Command call on parents and guardians to desist from releasing their Wards/Children to people with hidden identities or motives, by verifying the kind of work they are to be employed for, where and to report any suspicious move to take their children outside the country for unconfirmed work and mouth-watering plans, the fight must be collective, to safeguard the lives and destinies of this young people. All cases being investigated will be concluded before New Year for onward report to the Service. Headquarters, Abuja, while the command steps up its strategies, officers and men are warned to avoid being accomplice in anyway.
Already, the discovery made by the NIS is yielding results as the Operatives of the Nigeria Immigration Service(NIS) rescued a 12 years old boy identified as Tobi Fred is from Banigbe-Lokossa region of Cotonou,in Benin Republic.
The 12 years old boy was found wandering at checkpoint during a patrol assignment at the Yenagoa Tollgate.The NIS stated that a minor of age twelve(12) years was found wandering around the checkpoint.
According to the statement, “the boy was brought to the command for proper profiling and possible reunion with his family, the underage by name Tobi Fred is from Banigbe-Lokossa region of Cotonou,in Benin Republic,” Investigation revealed an issue of child abandonment, the underage who does not understand English apart from his local BENINOISE language had to be helped out by an interpreter in the person of the Assistant Chairman of the BENINOISE Community in Bayelsa Mr Etienne Fred, not related to the subject, the underage was brought into Nigeria by one Philip a BENINOISE who was said to be the uncle of the abandoned child ,he is no longer in the country at the time of arrest and press time”
He said the NIS ,Bayelsa Command has taken up the rehabilitation of the underage who needs medical care and nourishment before handing over to the BENINOISE Community for return back to his parents at Banigbe-Lokossa,Cotonou Benin Republic,”The service in preparation for the 2023 election is mopping up irregular Non Nigerians on the street of Yenagoa, after the major operation flush in September,2022,the service had decided not to relent until the state is rid of irregular migrants.”
In the command’s policy of proper interaction with Civil populace, the Bayelsa Command has led the Nigerian Immigration Service to show that unlike its storied hidden conduct, there is more to the NIS operations other that Passport issuance and chasing illegal immigrants. Sunday James led the NIS Personnel to mark the International Women’s day while celebrating with their female counterparts, he urged them to cement good working relationship with their male counterpart.
He also motivated the women officers of the service when he promised to open Crèche for female nursing personnel . The gesture according to him, was for nursing female officers/ mothers to take care of their babies, and guarantee no lost in working hours, “The gesture according to the command will also reduce the stress experienced by the mothers of such children, between the ages of 1 to 3 years, who may need such intervention at a close range, while performing their duties optimally”.
According to the Command’s Public Relations Officer, Mr. Ibeinmo-Cookey Ebitimitula, “the effort is in collaboration with the office of the Mayor of Yenagoa City Local Government Council.Comptroller Sunday on assumption of duty discovered that many of the female staff are nursing mothers, a factor that get them distracted from their jobs”.
The PRO quoted Sunday as saying: “Since my assumption to office, I discovered that many of our female staff are nursing mothers, while some few are at various stages of pregnancy, it occurred to me to find a solution to constantly taking permission to leave the office to carry children from nursery Crèche schools, without coming back even when they have serious assignments to accomplish.
“He noted that the desire to reduce the burden of running helter-skelter prompted the move and with the support of the Mayor of Yenagoa City Local Government Council, Nimizo Orouoaye, and council members some materials were deployed for the comfort of the children, and the happiness of mothers whose children are at reach and under proper supervision.
“CIS Sunday, further stated that the Crèche that is presently meant to serve Nursing and Nursery aged children will soon upgrade to primary school with the approval of relevant authorities. He noted that some of the NIS staff with education background and passion for children would be drafted to take care of the children and a nurse would be deployed to take care of the facility and the crèche”.
Sunday within a short period of time, has also shown the State Government and the people of the State that the Nigerian Immigration Service is socially responsible. At the height of the flood disaster, the Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service Isa Jere Idris has directed the Comptroller of Immigration Service Bayelsa State James Sunday to visit the IDP Camp and donate drinking water to the internally displaced persons for them to have clean drinking water both adults and children.
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